Perpetually troubled electric car startup Faraday Future filed a lawsuit on Monday against the company’s former chief financial officer, Stefan Krause, alleging that he stole a number of trade secrets and improperly solicited employees to join him at a new startup.
The Verge first reported on the explosive new suit earlier today. It comes after a messy fallout involving Faraday and Krause, who resigned from the company in October after the company’s CEO, Jia Yueting, refused as part of a deal for new investors. After Jalopnik first reported Krause’s departure in November, Faraday issued a bombastic statement accusing him of “malfeasance” and vowed to pursue legal action against him. Krause denied the allegations and promised to vigorously defend himself in court.
At the time, Faraday also claimed it had, in fact, fired Krause. But Faraday’s suit filed this week contradicts its original statement. The 15-page complaint claims that Krause asked Faraday’s HR director to “backdate his resignation” by roughly two weeks to allegedly cover up that he was launching a competing startup called Evelozcity.
Documents filed with the Delaware Division of Corporations show that Evelozcity was incorporated on November 7, about three weeks after Krause left the company, Jalopnik previously reported.
The complaint also cites former chief technology officer, Ulrich Kranz, as being part of the allege scheme. Kranz resigned from Faraday in October, one day after Krause’s departure.
A Faraday Future spokesperson didn’t have an immediate comment beyond confirming the lawsuit. A spokesperson for Evelozcity said a statement is forthcoming.
Trade secrets theft has been front and center in Silicon Valley over the last year, after Google’s self-driving car project Waymo sued Uber for allegedly using stolen files to further its own autonomous driving ambitions.
Faraday claims that one exec, Bill Strickland, “appears” to have copied thousands of sensitive documents from the company’s computers. Strickland isn’t named as a defendant in the case.
“Forensic analysis has shown that Mr. Strickland accessed and apparently copied onto a portable USB drive and/or a personal Google drive substantial amounts of FF trade secret information that included at least: plans for parts in vehicles, material specs, cost lists, financial spreadsheets, information about FF’s proprietary VPA system, confidential power train information, vendor information, and many other categories of confidential and proprietary trade secret information,” the lawsuit alleges.
“FF is informed and believes that Mr. Strickland took FF’s trade secrets at the encouragement and direction of Evelozcity, and that Evelozcity has wrongfully possessed, disclosed and used FF’s trade secrets.”
Faraday also uses the suit to push back against reporting that Krause secured funding for the company, only on the condition that Jia stepped aside.
“Krause’s and Kranz’s statements that FF could not obtain funding unless YT gave up control of the company proved to be false,” the lawsuit claims. “To the contrary, FF did obtain additional financing in November 2017, despite the fact that YT had not stepped down.”
To date, Faraday has refused to comment on reports that it secured $1 billion in funding. The lawsuit doesn’t specify how much funding it allegedly raised in November after Krause’s departure.
More as we get it.
Update, Jan. 29 8:00 p.m.: EVelozcity provided Jalopnik with the following comment:
We do not have, nor do we need, any technology from Faraday Future. This complaint continues Faraday’s pattern of hurling false and inflammatory accusations against us. We will respond to the many recklessly inaccurate allegations in this desperate lawsuit at the appropriate time.