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четверг, 21 октября 2010 г.

On False Rumors and Defamation Attempts

Dear Friends,

You may have heard various rumors about AmBAR lately. We have tried our best to stay above the gossip. However false rumors are being spread and many of our friends and supporters asked us to make a statement. We firmly intend it to be our last one in this regard.

Let us briefly summarize the most prevalent rumors. According to them, the 2008-2010 management team of AmBAR is not longer affiliated with AmBAR because it looted the bank account of AmBAR, transferred tons of money to themselves, bought themselves luxury stuff on AmBAR money, and now refuse to turn over financial records to the current Board members. Because of such wrongful activity they were kicked off the Board.

Those and other rumors are completely false!

The truth is that the Board members who are currently trying to manage AmBAR affairs took over power of our organization under false pretenses and egregious circumstances having nothing to do with the financial affairs of AmBAR. Any claims of alleged financial mismanagement were not raised until weeks later exclusively for the purpose of justifying the power struggle and destroying our reputations.

At present, to protect our reputation, a lawsuit had been filed in Supreme Court of San Mateo County against Andrey Kunov, whose defamations against fellow board member and his unlawful removal had been instrumental in obtaining sufficient votes for pre-mediated power-grab.

In the best interests of the organization, we have spent over two months trying to resolve the split on the Board peacefully. We offered multiple reasonable solutions, including building a new board from well-respected independent individuals (venture capitalists and successful entrepreneurs) or going for a membership-wide public election. All our offers were either rejected or we have not received any response back, and no offers of peaceful resolution came from the other side. The reason became clear to us only recently, where, as it turned out, instead of looking for amicable solution, the other side was and still is fully engaged in public smearing campaign falsely accusing us of the so-called "financial improprieties".

Let us now summarize the well documented facts:

1. A lot of people were involved in AmBAR activities over the years, including organizing the SVOD conference. The practice of compensation, in existence for six years, was used to motivate people and partially compensate for their considerable investment of time and effort in AmBAR big projects, such as the SVOD Conference. Compensation has been paid in all years except those which were financially bad for the organization (such as 2008)

2. AmBAR's then in-house counsel, Julia Pogodina, prepared and approved such contracts and provided guidelines.

3. Along with many others, the 2008-2010 Management Team/three members of the AmBAR Board of Directors against whom these latecomers are alleging baseless rumors of financial improprieties, were compensated for their considerable investment of time and effort (for putting together the SVOD Conference, the first groundbreaking VC trip to Russia and helping arrange President Medvedev's visit to Silicon Valley) at the princely rate of $30/hour.

4. All other Board members, i.e., Julia Pogodina, Andrey Kunov, Leonid Litvak, and Alexey Kudryashov have themselves been compensated pursuant to the same contracts Ms. Pogodina prepared.

5. All financial documents (including line-item detail for every check, receipt, and transaction) have been made available to all the Board members on September 3,2010. Thus, the individuals spreading the rumors knew they were baseless when made.

6. In fact, the Management Team/three AmBAR Directors have repeatedly suggested an independent third-party audit, and the people spreading these rumors refused.

7. Allegations of financial irregularities are the cheapest and easiest allegations to hide someone amoral actions . This is going for the low-hanging fruit. But spreading these cliche allegations, knowing they are false, and then refusing to submit to an independent audit, is simply cowardly. We leave it to our members to draw their own conclusions about the character and judgment of people who would behave in this unprofessional and hypocritical manner.

8. As before, we extend an open invitation to all our paid members and sponsors to review the financial records for themselves.

9. As a last attempt to save AmBAR whom we dearly love we have offered to all the Board Members involved in the conflict to resign and nominate/elect an independent caretaker Board consisting of respected and prominent members of the community. So far we have not heard back from the other side.

We look forward to continuing to serve and expand the Russian-speaking tech community, and regret that other Board members have chosen to make their power-grab into a public spectacle.

Anna Dvornikova

Stas Khirman

Vera Shokina

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