“Our parent company, Ener1 Group, has, from time to time, had loans from its principal investor, Bzinfin SA. Mr. Boris Zingarevich, who is a director of Ener1 Group, is an officer of Bzinfin and controls Bzinfin,” Ener1 acknowledged in a May 9, 2005, SEC report.
The document also said Bzinfin SA held the rights to three of Ener1’s five pending battery-related patent applications as collateral for the loans from Bzinfin to the Ener1 Group.
Ener1 has acknowledged that Mr. Zingarevich was the first major investor in the company - his help coming at a time the firm had run into financial difficulties - and that without his millions of dollars in investments, it would not have survived.
In a written statement, Ener1 denied that any foreign investor had any control over the company, adding that the process of raising additional capital for its lithium-ion battery program had diminished Mr. Zingarevich’s stake in the firm.
“Like many American businesses, our stock is owned by a diverse mix of investors,” the statement said. “Mr. Zingarevich was the first major investor in the company, and the process of raising additional capital is continuously dilutive over time of his stake, which is a common phenomenon in moving from a start-up to an emerged technology company.”
Charles Gassenheimer, Ener1’s board chairman and chief executive officer, told reporters earlier this year that the company’s foreign investors had no influence on projects or decisions regarding its production of the lithium-ion batteries and that Mr. Zingarevich had no day-to-day role in its operations.
As for Mr. Gaffney’s concerns, the company said it learned from “outside sources” that he has a “particular historic enmity toward Russia and Russians” and it hoped he had not allowed that to “obscure his view of the facts.”
The company noted that no money provided under the government programs could be used for research and development, only to build or modernize its battery manufacturing facilities. It blamed concerns about its foreign investors on a “particular short-seller,” whom it said had sought to drive down its share price.
It said the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which regulates securities firms, is investigating the matter. FINRA would neither confirm nor deny the existence of any investigation.