"I didn't commit fraud with i-mate"
The man accused by his former CEO of defrauding smartphone developer i-mate has strongly denied to Mobile Europe that he has had anything to do with any fraud at the company.
i-mate, which develops and markets smartphones and devices, placed all its staff on indefinite leave in September after being late to pay staff salaries in August and September.
It was widely reported to have gone out of business but on 25 September its former CEO Jim Morrison distributed a statement claiming that he was taking certain i-mate assets forward into a new company. The statement said that the new company would be owned by a holding company called Hillfoot Limited, and would trade as i-mate in the USA, UK, Australia and Taiwan.
The statement also alleged that the company had been put in this position as the result of a fraud committed by its CFO Melkon Marashlian.
In a phone conversation with Mobile Europe, Morrison said that he had “hard evidence” that Marashlian had defrauded i-mate to the sum US$15 million.
“He has commited fraud on a large scale,” he said. Morrison said that the Dubai Internet City authorities were investigating the matter, and said that the Dubai police were currently holding Marashlian’s passport, to prevent him leaving the country.
Yet Marashlian himself denied all Morrison’s accusations, and denied that he was even the subject of an investigation, or that the police were currently retaining his passport. In an email to Mobile Europe, he wrote:
“1. There is absolutely no investigation (official or otherwise) by Dubai Internet City Authorities, if there is I would have known it by now.
2. The Dubai police never approached me about these allegations and the police don't hold anyone's passport without the person's knowledge and without having the person interviewed.
3. I have not being called by Dubai police and I confirm there is no official or non-official investigations involving me with regard to the i-mate so-called fraud.
In conclusion, I didn't commit fraud with i-mate and I confirm that Mr. Morrison's allegation that I defrauded i-mate to the tune of $15 million or any other amount is completely false and unfounded.”
Although Morrison says that i-mate will go forward under the new owner without debt, it is facing court action for non-payment of salaries in Dubai from its own employees. Morrison said this is because under Dubai law, when salaries are not paid, banks can freeze bank accounts. Non-nationals without work are also given 30 days to find work, or leave the country, Morrison said. This meant it was sensible for the employees to start the case, he claimed, as it gives them more time to find work while the case is pending.
i-mate was late in paying salaries in August, and was late again in September, due to funds from a major client arriving just too late to meet payroll deadline, Morrison said. Those salaries are still unpaid, Morrison said, due to the court action, but he insisted that the money was available, and would be paid to employees if the court allowed.
Morrison insisted that as soon as contracts with distributors, suppliers and partners could be established, the company will start shipping devices, including the ruggedised 810-F, which was launched to some fanfare at Mobile World Congress in 2009.