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The Disco Elysium lawsuit debacle takes a sharp turn in favor of the original creators – Effinate Games

It’s been a wild few months for the team behind the hit game Disco Elysium. Reports of several key members of the creative team and shareholders of developer ZA/UM leaving the company “involuntarily” were followed a few weeks later by the news that lead designer Robert Kurvitz had filed a lawsuit against ZA/UM. Shortly after that, in early November, executive producer Kaum Kender was also apparently forced out of the company — and that’s when the real dirty laundry started to be aired.

Ilmar Kompus and Tõnis Haavel, two remaining senior team members from ZA/UM, have apparently been caught up in a massive fraud the likes of which Estonia has never seen before, potentially amounting to almost 5 million euros, according to The Estonian newspaper Eesti Ekspress (translation here). In a convoluted plot that involved reselling a stack of concept art back to the company at an inflated price of €4.8 million, to buy out the shares from a departing executive that had previously been agreed to be split equally between the founders, Kompus managed to take a majority stake in ZA/UM and effectively used the company’s own money to secure its position and force out its rivals.

Kender, for his part, was reportedly on Kompus’ new board at first, but after raising too many objections as talk of selling the company or Disco Elysium’s IP began to rise, he was placed on leave and subsequently fired last week. However, Kender took the matter to court and sued Kompus, claiming he had been defrauded of €913,000. The Harju County Court ended up freezing Kompus’ shares in ZA/UM, preventing them from being sold or moved until the whole business is settled.

The whole story is still developing, but even at this early stage it looks like a subplot from Disco Elysium itself, involving not only all the named parties but also Tõnis Haavel, a producer and former banker previously convicted of investment fraud, in a complex web of stock deals, shell companies and shady debts. Still, the step of freezing the shares of ZA/UM should at least give the courts some breathing room to try to figure everything out and deduce what exactly has been going on. If only they had a reliable ally like Kim Kitsuragi to lend a hand.

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