Italian sports car brand De Tomaso’s planned turnaround as a million-dollar supercar maker appears to have hit a dead end in a lawsuit filed against its founder by a former CEO.
Ryan Bellis, who joined De Tomaso Automobili Holdings NA in 2014 as CEO and lead developer of the planned P72 supercar, said Wednesday that the company and its founder, Hong Kong investor Norman Berris, will stand firm in Manhattan federal court. sued Mr. Choi. Bellis claims he was fired last year for thwarting Choi’s plans to proceed with a blank check merger based on false information.
“Rather than revive De Tomaso and become obsessed with building the perfect car to serve the company’s discerning customers, Choi took the company public through a phony SPAC process. I was obsessed with trying,” Bellis said in the article. Complaint.
Bellis claims he owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and a 10% stake in the company that was once worth as much as $1.5 billion.
De Tomaso’s media outlet did not respond to a request for comment. Choi could not be reached for comment.
Best known for the Mangusta and Pantera sports coupes it introduced in the 1960s and 1970s, De Tomaso filed for bankruptcy in 2004. The rights to the name were eventually acquired by Choi and his partner in 2014.
Bellis said Choi contacted him soon after and the two met at a racetrack in Spain. At the time, Bellis worked for the Scuderia He Cameron He Glickenhaus (SCG). The company is a US manufacturer of high-performance racing and road cars, and the company’s SCG007 his hypercar will score him the podium at the 2022 Le His Mans.
“Desperate to avoid failure, I begged Mr. Bellis to take over the company and create a world-class, credible revival of the famous De Tomaso brand,” Bellis’ attorney said. Boys Syrah Flexner LLP wrote in his complaint.
Bellis agreed, saying he continued development of the P72, which was unveiled at the 2019 Goodwood Festival. An homage to the legendary De Tomaso P70 prototype from 1965 co-developed by Alejandro De Tomaso and Carroll Shelby, the new car created a sensation with a base price of $1 million and plans within days. I was flooded with regular purchase inquiries that surpassed the price. According to the complaint, the number of sales is limited to 72 units.
De Tomaso had received about $36 million in nonrefundable deposits by early 2022, and demand far outstripped supply, Bellis said. Bellis tried to raise more money to ramp up production of the P72, but Choi started taking a different approach, according to the complaint.
$10 million apartment
“Mr. Choi began to cut corners behind Mr. Bellis, fabricating false financial statements and misleading discerning customers who had already deposited a large down payment for a De Tomaso car,” Bellis said. argues Mr.
The former CEO alleges that Choi violated his fiduciary duty to De Tomaso by using more than $10 million in company funds to purchase an apartment in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. Bellis said Choi was keen to get more money through the SPAC deal.
Choi reportedly told SPAC investors in his financial statements that he had poured $3.1 million of his own money into De Tomaso, but Bellis said in a text message to Choi that the money would go to Sino Vision. It claims to have clarified that it is from Worldwide Holdings.
The complaint alleges that Sino Vision has joined the so-called Enigma Network, a group of 50 Hong Kong companies identified by shareholder activist David Webb as stocks to avoid due to questionable business practices and lack of transparency. A related paper company. Bellis said many companies controlled by Choi are involved in the network.