Family problems: Paris based startup accelerator The Family sues its co-founder Oussama Ammar – Irish Tech News

The Family incubator has announced they are suing their co-founder Oussama Ammar.

Legal action has been launched against Oussama Ammar (who left The Family last November) by the two other co-founders and current directors, Alice Zagury and Nicolas Colin. The latter suspect Oussama Ammar of embezzlement, and have informed their shareholders of this in recent days via an email which states: “we suspect a misappropriation of approximately 3 million euros, which was collected in 2019-2020 by the entity The Family (Global Godfathers) SPC . These amounts were intended to be invested in various technology companies based in the United States between December 2019 and October 2020”.

The Family’s lawyer Elsa Sammari commented “A significant part of the 3 million euros was paid to Oussama Ammar or his personal holding companies. Oussama Ammar was supposed to re-invest them in start-ups, but we don’t know if he actually did it, and he refused to provide the documents showing that he did”.

The lawyer continued: “The Family filed a criminal complaint on March 23 for “breach of trust, forgery and use of forgery”. At the same time, The Family initiated two procedures to freeze the assets of Osama Ammar and of his personal holding companies, Fabuleo Ltd and Aletheis The First Ltd. For its assets held in France, such as its shares in the French company Théléma, which is a shareholder in the Ablon estate in Normandy, a first procedure was initiated before the Paris court, which issued a precautionary seizure order on February 7th. For the other assets, a second procedure was initiated in the Cayman Islands, which granted an injunction to this effect on March 15. Finally, The Family has also initiated summary proceedings before the Paris Commercial Court concerning the investment of one million euros which was to be made in the summer of 2020 in the American start-up Stripe, which has since become a unicorn. In this last procedure, The Family asks Oussama Ammar to prove at least that he made this investment, or to return the funds”

In addition, the email indicates that the big 4 accountancy firm PwC has been hired to conduct a forensic audit of the financial flows between The Family and Oussama Ammar.

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Oussama Ammar announced his departure from The Family in November via Linkedin, commenting on the reasons for his departure, he simply stated: “it is time to make way for a new generation of advisers”.

The legal proceedings against are likely to be very complex. Oussama Ammar has moved to Dubai and his personal holding companies, Fabuleo Ltd and Aletheis The First Ltd, are registered in Hong Kong.

Founded in 2012, The Family was originally an accelerator for start-ups in Paris, taking a small equity stake in each. It gradually transformed into a fellowship and VC investment fund. Among their portfolio start-ups are Heetch, PayFit, Algolia, Captain train, Doctrine, etc.

The Family to date have themselves raised around 25 million euros in several investment rounds. In 2014, Tier one VC fund Index Ventures and several angel investors such as Frédéric Montagnon, invested $1m. In 2018, a 15m euros investment was announced from HummingBird Venture, Project A, Ace & Company, e.Ventures and LGT Capital Partners, owned by the Royal family of Liechtenstein. Among the shareholders of The Family, there are IDinvest, Rocket Internet, Breega Capital, Noël Forgeard, Alexandre Mulliez, Adrien Dassault, and several high profile tech figures, such as Gilles Barbier, Eric Setton, Jean de La Rochebrochard from Kima Ventures, Frédéric Mazzella and Francis Nappez from Blablacar.

The success of The Family had saw its founders forging close ties with the French government. With regular high profile interactions with French President Emmanuel Macron and the European Union.

The Family were like many hard hit by the pandemic, quickly implementing cost-saving measures in 2020, such as the closure of the offices in Berlin and London, and a reduction of employees.

It has been reported in the French media that when asked about the allegations Oussama Ammar commented:

“I doubt that investors were informed of these proposals. I have a solid team of lawyers and I am available to the courts to establish collective and individual responsibilities. It will take time, and no, I’m not going to do justice in the press or speak ill of anyone. I also have demands against The Family, in particular financial. For example my ex-co-founders gave me no stake for the start-ups that I myself brought to The Family in 2020 and 2021, their offer to buy my shares is scandalously low. I don’t mean to be the scapegoat for all of The Family’s problems. Otherwise I would have founded a club alone. In the meantime, I will continue to deliver content, deals and create value for thousands of entrepreneurs”

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It’s important to remember that the legal action for the alleged embezzlement is still under way and he is presumed innocent.

That being said, I think I speak for many across the European tech startup ecosystem in saying that regardless of the outcome of this case, The Family have been hugely positive torch bearers for the potential of the French ecosystem and many would argue a key pillar of it’s meteoric rise, in the same way that YC were for San Francisco or Seedcamp, and latterly Entrepreneur First aka EF were for London. To that regard, The Family’s work has been highly visible, well documented and respected.

Every French investor, founder and operator I know personally has always spoken very highly of The Family and when I hosted a panel at the premier French tech conference VivaTech in Paris with Alice Zagury, Eventbrite cofounder Renaud Visage and LeWeb cofounder Géraldine Le Meur, I was hugely impressed by Alice.

Le secret des équipes performantes partagé par @geraldine @renaudvisage @Alice_zag et @speirin lors d’une conf #RH #management à #VivaTech pic.twitter.com/Qf2yqY3NsK

— Be a Boss (@Beaboss_mag) June 15, 2017

Obviously, I have no idea of the internal operations, management of finances and corporate governance, but I hope that this situation is resolved quickly and doesn’t tarnish the positive work they’ve done in France and beyond, after all every family has it’s own problems….

Update:

Cofounder Alice Zagury has posted further context after the news broke which can be found here

This content was originally published here.