Disco Elysium
Image: ZA/UM

In a significant escalation of the legal battle between Disco Elysium's ousted creators and the development studio ZA/UM, both parties have presented conflicting statements regarding the dismissal of Robert Kurvitz, Aleksander Rostov, and Helen Hindpere.

In an online message posted by Kurvitz and Rostov, the pair allege that they - along with Hindpere - were "excluded from daily operations" before being dismissed and blocked from accessing company information. Thet state that their firing "came weeks after [they] started asking for documents and financial data".

They also allege that their troubles began when a new majority shareholder by the name of Tütreke OÜ gained control over studio ZA/UM. They claim that Tütreke OÜ fraudulently gained money from the company itself in order to purchase the majority stake, and that if proven, could lead to prosecution and imprisonment of up to three years. They state that one of the majority shareholders involved, Tõnis Haavel, had previously been convicted of defrauding investors back in 2007.

However, in a conflicting statement from studio ZA/UM to GamesIndustry, the company claims that former employees were fired due to misconduct (though it declined to identify the employees by name). It claims that "the dismissed employees had limited to no engagement in their responsibilities and work, created a toxic work environment, demonstrated misconduct towards other employees including verbal abuse and gender discrimination, and attempted to illegally sell ZA/UM's intellectual property".

In a previous statement to Estonian Ekspress, ZA/UM CEO Ilmar Kompus claims that Kurvitz had "been known for belittling women and co-workers in the past" and that he and Saandar Taal (an alias of Aleksander Rostov), former director of ZA/UM, had discussed taking full control of the studio's intellectual property, which Kompus had described as "delusions of grandeur". Another source who spoke with GamesIndustry stated that long-term staff were reluctant to speak of Kurvitz's behaviour out of respect, having felt like they owed their positions within the company to him.

Finally, in an apparant direct response the claims made by Kurvitz and Rostov, ZA/UM states that "the rumour that our decision to terminate the contracts of these individuals was taken for financial gain is entirely unfounded and does not in any way reflect the facts", clarifying that "it was a decision that had to be taken for the wellbeing of the collective". It also catagorically denies all claims of financial malfeasance or fraud.

[source medium.com, via gamesindustry.biz]