Last January, Oussama Ammar spoke about cryptocurrencies on Sud Radio. In February, he was invited to talk about “digital art” in a Parisian tea room. Back in March, it was announced at the stunning Four Seasons hotel in Casablanca for a conference on entrepreneurship, family and money … The co-founder of The Family, an emblematic incubator of the start-up nation where Emmanuel Macron s delivered in 2015, is actually a highly sought after speaker. For several years now, this thought leader, identified as a tech pro, tells his experience to viewers of young entrepreneurs who have won, sometimes willing to pay 1,800 euros to accompany him. dinner and receive his advice. Among its popular terms? Picasso’s famous quote: “great artists copy, geniuses steal”.
Did the trader play with the formula a bit? Today, he is the one who allegedly squandered more than 3 million euros entrusted to The Family. His comrades, Nicolas Colin and Alice Zagury, publicly accused him. “Several group companies have filed complaints for breach of trust, forgery and use of forgery, against Osama and his personal holding companies”; they announced on LinkedIn. These companies are investment vehicles special purpose vehicle or SPV). The way they work is always the same: individuals come together to put money into new start-ups and support them in the hopes that one day they will hit the jackpot. They entrust their funds to The Family, which then invests in them.
In total, of the 78 vehicles created (50 in France, 12 in Great Britain and 16 in the Cayman Islands), 16 are now liquidated or inactive. Initially, they made it possible to invest in young shoots – generally French – incubated by The Family. Then, from 2019, Oussama Ammar launched a dozen vehicles to invest in American start-ups soon to be made public, such as AirBnB, Space X (Elon Musk’s company), Stripe (online payments) and Algolia (search engine). This is the latter that is the problem. In fact, part of the money was transferred to Osama Ammar’s personal accounts, and the latter will refuse, temporarily, to return it, or say what he did here… ”The 3 million euros quoted is a figure that there is no real justification, the defendant replies to the Capital.The desire to put everything behind me when Alice and Nicolas were leaders in the same way as me is not very convincing.The Family contracted with the investors, I am not personal. So there will be a discussion of responsibility “.
Even more impressive, this ridiculous business is starting to cause serious chaos in the beautiful districts of the capital. Because, according to our information, a battalion of VIPs, heirs of great fortunes or recognized bosses, can afford to withstand the weight of this imbroglio. This group of celebrities don’t know where their money went. In other words, they don’t know if it reaches the companies they think they funded.
The first round concerned paid in 2020 one million euros to invest in Stripe, valued at 95 billion dollars. There was Dylan Deschamps, son of the national football team coach, who paid 100,000 euros. Beside him, Florent Steiner, founder of the site Adopte un mec (100,000 euros also at stake) and Hugo Mulliez, general manager of Ausspar, the holding company of the Auchan group (more cautiously, with 5,000 euros allocated).
The other personalities were exposed by two SPVs formed in the Cayman Islands to buy 1.7 million euros of SpaceX and AirBnB securities. This time, it was the Poutrel family at the origin of Ingenico, a specialist in payment terminals, who would have lost track of the euros allocated for AirBnB.
Other complaints may have followed about three other vehicle investors in Algolia, but are “currently the subject of additional checks”, according to Ivan Terel, the plaintiffs ’attorney. One of them (where we saw the Poutrel family) was supposed to invest a million euros, but in reality only paid half of the total. According to its accounts, the balance was lent to other companies in The Family group.
As for the 53 other SPVs, their business angels are worried, afraid of getting caught in the riot, though TheFamily has made sure they are not worried about the case. Within these structures are again various well -known names. Like Eole Peyron Ricard, great -grandson of the Ricard family, who invested in Payfit. Or the family of optician Alain Afflelou, who bet 100,000 euros on Luko, a distributor of insurance products. Not to forget Edward Bouygues, son of Martin and president of Bouygues Telecom, who lost 50,000 euros by investing in the phones reconditioning specialist, Save my SmartPhone, which was finally liquidated. As well as the famous youtuber Olivier Roland (10,000 euros lost). But of course risk is an important part of this type of activity. More surprisingly, there are those who have difficulty recovering their income, such as the business angels of Captain Train. While this company sold very well in 2016, at almost 200 million euros, they will have to wait until 2020 to receive their share. Meanwhile, part of the capital gain was lent or invested in other companies of The Family group.
Osama Ammar’s controversial past (see box below) may cause investor concerns. Those who do not understand who Osama really is and trust him with money deserve to lose it ”, judged today on LinkedIn a recognized tech entrepreneur, Fred Potter.
But Osama Ammar, with undeniable interpersonal skills, knows how to woo. “He was a smooth speaker who offered everyone to put small tickets to great projects, recalls Stéphane Zibi, a consultant who specializes in digital. He created a trendy club to be a part of.” Successful start-uppers like Frédéric Montagnon, the founder of the Overblog platform, have been tempted. “I thought it was a great initiative to build the French ecosystem. I talked to some entrepreneurs, relatives, who did the same.
Especially the endorsement that Osama Ammar is very well surrounded by. Nicolas Colin, finance inspector and co-author of a report on digital taxation, brought seriousness and credibility to the project. As for Alice Zagury, she had experience in an incubator with Camping installed in Paris’s Silicon Sentier. Following this, the trio was joined by another well-known financial inspector, Jean-Jacques Augier, former treasurer of François Hollande during the 2012 presidential campaign and adviser to Emmanuel Macron during his first presidential campaign. Something that would reassure any investor, is probably wrong.
Aware of the excitement aroused and the danger of a crisis of confidence that would affect the entire The Family, Alice Zagury tried to reassure the troops. It says the value “of the SPV portfolio amounts to more than 70 million euros, for 23 million euros invested”. While some financial partners immediately gave their support, others questioned the partners ’shared responsibilities and demanded public accountability. No more washing your dirty laundry … as a family.
But the worries don’t end there. Other shareholders, those who have invested in The Family incubator itself, are also wondering if they will ever see their money. This is the subject of the second part of our investigation.
Look tomorrow for the continuation of our investigation into The Family
The controversial past of Osama Ammar
- In June 2018, a criminal court in Nanterre sentenced Oussama Ammar to a four -month suspended prison sentence for “breach of trust, forgery and use of forgery” for acts committed in 2011 when he was general manager of Be Sport Inc., a sports social network. . Exactly, he was sentenced for embezzling 5,000 euros from the start, then set up a false invoice to justify it. The judgment was based specifically on emails sent by Oussama Ammar and found on his computer after his removal from Be Sport. In particular, he wrote to a creditor: “I’m going to steal a little money (after all, that’s what I know how to do best) … Once I get three sous, I’ll give it to you. ”.
- Osama Ammar was also remanded in court for embezzling an additional 89,450 euros, but he was released at this point. Osama Ammar pleaded – successfully – that this 89,450 euros be used to pay for places, salaries, interns and consultants. The court therefore ruled that, out of this 89,450 euros, “the acts of breach of trust were not characterized, as it was not established that Osama Ammar used the funds entrusted to him, for purposes unrelated to goal of Be Sport “.
- Justice was taken by Be Sport after the departure of Osama Ammar, but the start-up eventually withdrew its complaint. However, the prosecution still continued the procedure. During the trial, Nicolas Colin and Alice Zagury, the two companions of Oussama Ammar in The Family, publicly defended him. Osama Ammar even hired Victor Zagury, Alice Zagury’s brother, as a lawyer. He did not appeal his belief.
- Previously, Oussama Ammar co-founded in 2008 another start-up, Hypios, which went bankrupt in 2011. Meanwhile, the auditor, in his report on the 2010 financial year, pointed out “many personal expenses incurred by founding president, as well as several operations aimed at favoring a company in which he has an interest.The amounts in question are assessed at approximately 200,000 euros. ”Oussama Ammar concluded a peaceful agreement on this subject in 2011.