Dan Bilzerian, CEO of cannabis company Ignite International Brands Ltd, and so-called Instagram playboy who posts images with stacks of cash and models on yachts, is being sued by a whistleblower amid reports that the company lost $50 million last year.
Curtis Heffernan, former Ignite executive vice president, claims he was fired after flagging unordinary purchases to the company board, including $75,000 on paintball field, $40,000 on a rock climbing wall, $60,000 on a “Star Wars” gun set, $31,000 on pool renovations, $50,000 on a bed frame, $15,000 on a ping pong table, and $88,000 on a vault, TMZ reports citing court documents.
Heffernan claims he also found evidence that some “business expenses” charged to Ignite were for household items, groceries, luxury yacht rentals, and transportation for models. He claims that when he brought the discrepancies to the board, Bilzerian accused him of doing drugs and fired him. Heffernan is seeking compensation for damages.
Ignite is publicly traded on the Canadian Securities Exchange, and per its annual filing the firm only made money by selling company stock – to the tune of $25 million – and through debt, according to a Forbes report. The filings show the company raised $19.9 million from “convertible debt” and $23.7 million from a “short-term promissory note.”
The filing also indicates that Ignite used cash to pay for salaries, licensing fees, and business and travel expenses for companies “owned by the CEO.”
The report runs contrary to former Ignite President Jim McCormick’s comments last year that he expected the firm to be “cash flow positive” in 2020, adding that Ignite was run “very lean and mean.”
In the filing, the board warned that, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic and partly due to “an unfavorable perception” of the Ignite brand, “there is no assurance that it will be able to obtain adequate financing in the future or that such financing will be on terms that are acceptable to the company.”
“The uncertainty of the Company’s ability to achieve profitable operations and its success in raising additional capital funding may cast significant doubt on the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” – Ignite’s Board of Directors in an CSE filing
The company also received $1.2 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program which was designed to help businesses struggling from the coronavirus pandemic. The company indicated it intends to apply for forgiveness on that loan.
Bilzerian told TMZ that Heffernan’s claim is “frivolous” and “ridiculous,” and that he was “fired for incompetence and negligence” and said Ignite would respond with its own lawsuit.
Note: All currency in U.S. dollars
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