Tech start-up backed by  mining tycoon collapses amid funding row

Telegraph 11 Jan 2019 06:00

A technology startup backed by billionaire mining tycoon Robert Friedland has collapsed into administration following a row over a $2 million (£1.5 million) black hole in the company’s accounts, the Telegraph has learned.

Zwoop, which planned to launch an e-commerce app to compete with Amazon in the UK, has entered administration, leaving 56 staff and dozens of contractors owed hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid bills.

Alessandro Gadotti, chief executive, quit the business in September following the cancellation of an initial coin offering, where businesses sell tokens rather than equity to raise money.

Mr Gadotti has denied any wrongdoing and said that the dispute was over legitimate expenses.

“There were some disagreements over how the money was spent or if some things were authorised or not, but this has been cleared,” Mr Gadotti said. “We were always within the budget defined with the shareholders.”

Mr Friedland had invested $13 million into Zwoop, sources said.

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Robert FriedlandAlessandro GadottiIvanhoe MinesIvanhoe CapitalAmazon