Roman Muljar effectively poached the E-Roll staff designers and absorbed the intellectual property of Atlas Partners without their shareholder's knowledge or consent. Atlas then stopped providing product development updates, stopped regular communications with key shareholder, or even returning calls. Finances disappeared. When an Atlas shareholder introduced himself at a UK EV trade show he was assaulted threatened with physical violence.
I'll deck you so hard you'll hit the floor! — Roman Muljar to an investor
-Stock Photo: Was this the
intended use for the bottle?
Right: Muljar retains death grip
on bottle with bulging veins
Watching my Estonian investment vanish, and having calls to my partners in the business I invested in go unanswered and unreturned, quickly turned to being threatened with the retaliation of having my shares in the business being taken away just for asking for the information due to any shareholder. As far as I could tell my investment was already as good as gone, it’s just that now they were acknowledging their malfeasance, so there was little left to threaten me with. Or so I thought. It was then that I attended Fully Charged, the UK EV trade show, where I believe the CEO of the company that had misappropriated my investment in E-Roll, absorbed my company, effectively poached my lead engineer, and publicly bragged about releasing my designs under his brand was displaying “his own” EV that had been developed with my engineer on my dime.
I didn’t think things could get any worse, so I approached him hoping for reconciliation and a path forward from what I prayed was just a misunderstanding to work it out for the highest benefit of all concerned. What I got was anything but that, as it was an unmistakable confirmation of all my worst fears of how all these players conducted “business”. At the trade show, I got as far into introducing myself as hello and my name, not even getting to the point of sharing my proposal of things could be worked out equitably and fairly, when I was met with a rage-filled outburst, being shoved backwards while having violent threats hissed at me of being “decked” and “dropped to the floor” from an inebriated and rage-filled psychopath who then came after me with a glass bottle. It then was confirmed to me that “business” was not a word these people understand, and working things out for the benefit of anyone other than themselves, not even their own investors, was not something they had any intention of doing. It seems they did not have either the knowledge or integrity necessary to handle investments, but saw my funds as their own personal income, to do with as they pleased without any accountability to partners and shareholders. I share my story not only in an attempt to find justice, but also to keep readers of this account from being taken advantage of by these same players.
In 2014, I saw a small, green, electric scooter called E-Roll at the 100% Design show in Earls Ct, London. It was on the stand run by the Estonian Association of Designers where I spoke to their President, Ilona Gurjanova. I was told E-Roll was a prototype made by an Estonian startup based in Tallinn called Atlas Partners OÜ.
Above video shows designer Ullar Karro discussing E-Roll with Ilona
Gurjanova on Estonian TV just before the London show in 2014.
I made a visit to Tallinn in 2015 where I met the team and rode a prototype. Atlas Partners consisted of three people: two Directors Ivo Ustav (Estonian Policeman) and Juhan Bernadt (retired, from Sweden) plus lead engineer Meelis Merilo. The three of them owned an equal one-third stake in Atlas.
The first image was taken at Tallinn Technical University in 2015 and the second image was at Meelis Merilo's house. Note the garage where E-Roll prototypes were made on the left-hand side. This garage appears again in the video below as part of the Nobe story where the car was also prototyped but on the right-hand side.
After several Skype calls with Atlas Partners between 2015-2017, I made a further due diligence visit to Tallinn in mid-2017 to get an update on the project. I had recently sold a house in London and went with a view to buy into the E-Roll project.
Due to rapid developments in the EV market and the key fact that Atlas had running prototypes, I decided to invest in Atlas Partners in late Summer 2017. I bought a 25% equity stake in the company. I was given assurances that the team would do everything necessary to get E-Roll into production where the basic prototype would evolve to a commercial-ready product. Crucially, we all agreed E-Roll would transition to UK as it was a 65-million-person market compared with Estonia being just 1.5 million. As per the Letter of Intent, signed by Ivo and me, the commercial headquarters would be London while Tallinn would continue with current its activities: design, R&D, prototypes, and testing. I agreed to serve as an active fourth partner vs. a silent investor.
We agreed one prototype would be shipped to London and the other two would stay in Tallinn for testing. The UK one would help support the activities at headquarters such as: marketing, electric vehicle events, and finding investors, partners, and customers.
Atlas Partners used www.e-roll.net initially which looked like a hobby website where the people involved openly shared all their updates because they were proud of what they were achieving. In a world of startups operating in stealth mode, especially where technology and intellectual property protection are crucial, Atlas Partners operated as amateurs and did not look professional. However, the E-Roll design had great potential so it was my hope that I could bring a large degree of professionalism to the team and help accelerate the overall mission and goals to get the product into the hands of consumers and businesses in the near future.
As part of my investment into E-Roll, I purchased www.eroll.com. This domain was never transferred to Tallinn since the headquarters would be London. The only progress that was ever made was that, without agreement, a second, unauthorized website was launched through a marketing agency in Tallinn using the domain www.geteroll.com, indicating the intent to operate behind partners' backs and outside of agreements.
Despite many efforts from London, Atlas Partners failed to send a prototype to UK or hold regular meetings. Updates were virtually non-existent. I spent a week in Tallinn with Atlas Partners in September 2018 trying to advance all aspects of E-Roll where I was met with a lot of resistance from Meelis in particular. There did not appear to be any degree of unity between Tallinn and London and I was beginning to feel that in 2017 they had told me whatever I needed to hear solely in order to get my investment but they did not have any intention of following through or being held accountable for our agreement or achieving any of the key milestones necessary to get E-Roll into production.
During the mid-2017 visit, Meelis showed me an odd-looking, egg-shaped, steel-frame cocoon car which I sat in. It was in another garage on his property. He said he was merely helping a friend to electrify this but made no mention of his deep involvement in this other project prior to my Atlas Partners investment. Had I known, it would have caused alarm, followed by a series of questions to assure that they had the capacity to do both projects. If I had not been able to be convinced, I would not have invested in E-Roll.
Equally, Nobe investors would also need to know of Meelis' involvement in e-roll. Meelis' conflict of interest to both sets of investors was not declared which is a serious breach of trust and ethics. A material impact that will prevent a product from being successfully developed must be disclosed.
The Nobe pitchdeck History page said this cocoon was built in 2014 as the first 3-wheeler prototype (bottom left of last image) although now Nobe claims to have not started until 2017 perhaps to mask a lack of progress. This shows that Meelis was likely working for Nobe as far back as 2014 and seems to have hidden this in order to attract investments without investors being aware of his priorities (or lack of them).
1. Simon Jones told in 2017 Merilo
not involved in Nobe Egg project
2. Roman in the Egg that Simon
never knew was a Nobe project.
3. Egg part of Nobe's Investor Proposal
4. Egg a Nobe project since 2014 but
Nobe claims operation launched in 2017
In late 2018 after my Tallinn visit, much to my surprise, I discovered for the first time that Meelis and Ivo were both working on another Estonian electric vehicle startup called Nobe. This came about as Nobe were fundraising via FundedByMe, a Swedish equity crowdfunding website (FundedByMe was since acquired by Pepins). Meelis was listed in Nobe's pitchdeck as Co-Founder and Head of Engineering. Nobe was a small, 3-wheeler car where Meelis was responsible for building the prototype in his garage alongside E-Roll.
As the team from Atlas Partners had been misled into becoming completely absorbed by Nobe, E-Roll's progress was effectively frozen. They claimed testing was being done on E-Roll so they needed all of them in Tallinn. In reality, they were like children playing with a new toy and E-Roll was like the baby they created where they couldn't let it go. This brought trust and co-operation between us to a standstill since the promised prototype never arrived back in the UK.
1. Merilo in video speaking on
both Nobe and E-Roll
2. Merilo's egg dates back to 2014
3. Merilo listed as co-founder but
tells fire dept. not involved!
This video shows E-Roll and Nobe together being filmed at the house of Meelis Merilo near Tallinn.
Stills below from a 2018 Reuters video show two E-Roll prototypes outside Merilo's garage and the Nobe's frame inside. The video also show E-Roll and Nobe together along with Meelis and Ivo both working on Nobe.
-Ivo in Meelis' garage where
Nobe and E-Roll worked on together
-Meelis' and Ivo of E-Roll fully
engaged working on Nobe
Though professionals recognize that LinkedIn is the place to market your skills and showcase your experience, Merilo's profile showed nothing (and as of September 2022 still doesn't) about his involvement in Nobe Cars, so he knowingly deceived me about his involvement. It does mention his Atlas Partners involvement as Lead Engineer. Ivo Ustav's LinkedIn profile doesn't have his real name as he went by the fake name of Rohe Kraed meaning "green collar" in Estonian. He also fails to mention Nobe. Meelis Lillemets and Eero Tamre, both listed as Founders/Designers on Nobe's pitchdeck also cannot be found on LinkedIn.
Merilo's LinkedIn Sept. 2022
doesn't mention Nobe
Although in 2018 Nobe's own pitch deck listed Merilo as a co-founder of that company, and CEO Roman Muljar has repeatedly stressed to shareholders and management that Merilo is central to the company, playing the most essential role at Nobe Cars, at the same time they have hidden his position from everyone else, especially those involved with E-Roll. While Merilo is listed since 2018 as lead engineer and co-founder at Nobe, in 2019, after a mysterious fire, occurring when Nobe Cars was reported as being in repeated financial distress Merilo seemed to shug it off saying they "were planning to move soon anyway." The reporter emphasized that Merilo then asked him to "stress that he is a small shareholder in Nobe and does not actively participate in the company's day-to-day operations", the exact opposite of what the CEO tells investors.
Their car is smokin' but not in
the way investors were promised.
Although investors in Atlas Partners’ E-Roll were being told that Meelis Merilo was not a part of Nobe and that he only operated there on an occasional day-rate basis, investors and even management in Nobe Cars were being told just the opposite. Nobe CFO Walter Rowntree raised the issue that Nobe did not have the funds to continue operating unless substantial new investment came in. Rowntree then suggested looking at expenses that could be cut or paused, and questioned on more than one occasion why Merilo was still on the payroll. The body of the Nobe 100 had been designed, and it was claimed the prototypes had been completed. Although their Alpha prototypes had never reached the stage of being functional enough to let members of the press run it through its paces, Merilo's job on the vehicle was finished as his design was limited to the body, not the internal components.
Muljar would often claim to be “laser focused” solely on the 100 car, even just seconds after promoting the progress on the pickup truck to the public. Against the wishes of the CFO and recommendations of some investors and managers, Muljar kept Merilo on the payroll, claiming that this man who was most recently working out of his garage was about to be snapped up by the likes of such companies as BMW and Audi. For a company just struggling to get its first car to market —indeed they were struggling to just stay afloat unless their only focus was to funnel investor money into their own pockets— a great deal of time, effort, and expense was being put into development of the second, third, fourth, and fifth vehicles by a company which yet to finish a genuine prototype of its first. Merilo was kept on the payroll, developing prototypes from designs for a pickup truck, to a delivery van and an SUV. Against the wishes of many, Merilo was being paid to be a full-time player and integral part of Nobe, one Muljar claimed was essential to Nobe’s operation, while shareholders in Atlas were being vehemently assured that he was not. Maybe this is why Merilo, present at the scene of the Nobe fire spoke authoritatively on Nobe’s business plans and situation, then backed off and asked the reporter “to emphasize that he is a small shareholder in Nobe and does not actively participate in the company's work on a daily basis.” A troubling statement from someone who is listed in a Nobe investor pitch deck as “Founder and Head of Engineering”, and at the same time told investors in Atlas that he is not really involved with Nobe.
Due to the lack of progress with E-Roll from Atlas Partners, I decided to contact Nobe's Founder and CEO, Roman Muljar, to discuss the matter. I made the point that he had effectively poached the E-Roll team to work to bring Nobe to life to the detriment of Atlas Partners. He was only concerned with himself and refused to consider the ethics and legalities of what he was doing.
Of note on Nobe's pitchdeck is they claim to have properly started Nobe Cars in the second half of 2017, which perhaps more than coincidentally is right after I transferred the money for the development of the E-Roll scooter to Ivo, Juhan and Meelis for my 25% stake in Atlas Partners. I suspect this money was immediately diverted into getting the first full Nobe prototype made (beyond the rough egg-shell frame). Since E-Roll and Nobe were being made in the same garage, any intellectual property was merged and it seemed E-Roll, both it’s IP and staff, as well as its finances had been completely absorbed by Nobe.
A history of failed businesses
Seanest is the shell company operating Nobe Cars
Full record click here
Roman Muljar does not share any significant details, if there even are any, of any previous professional roles on his LinkedIn to show any credibility or credentials for Nobe. Based on interviews with Muljar in the media, he states his background includes being: an English teacher, a quail egg salesmen, and founder of a company that tried to build catamarans (none delivered as investors were all scared away). The Estonian Business Registry also lists a string of failed business ventures —login required to see the full dozen— where investors lost a lot of money. The nearly complete list is pictured above, and the complete list of failures is shown on our homepage. It is almost a little funny that he states he is the "Acting CEO" of Nobe on LinkedIn — given his business history, one might assume that in this case "acting" could just as well mean that he is faking it as he has no credentials whatsoever to lead an EV company and ask investors to put millions at risk to fund another failure.
In Estonia, people with capital to invest
know better than to put it with Muljar
Investors beware! It is no wonder that in June 2022, Roman posted on LinkedIn that, after 10 years in business, it would be difficult to find anyone in Estonia with any significant amount of money that will touch his latest venture of Nobe Cars. Word gets around and they all know better by now.
There have already been numerous scandals in the rapidly growing and important market in the world of electric vehicles and, in some cases, founders have been caught flat-out lying to investors, misleading them, and making big claims and false promises. Roman struck me as such a person where morals, decency, transparency and accountability are looked at as an unnecessary obstacle to separating people from their money rather than a cornerstone of a viable business.
In the e-mail below, I wanted to fully document the situation for Roman Muljar so he understood all aspects of my involvement in Atlas Partners and E-Roll and how Nobe was affecting my investment. I especially wanted him to understand that any reasonable businessperson recognizes that there are consequences for burning investors. As my e-mail states, I was still working hard find a "positive and agreeable way forward" from an unacceptable situation.
Full text of e-mail to Muljar
Of note, Nobe raised money in Sweden in 2018 from FundedByMe under the name Seanest OÜ (Fomerly Seanesting OÜ which was another of Muljar's companies that was "Forcibly deleted by the [Estonian] Business Register", with the new name now seeming to be used only as a shell company for Nobe Cars), but failed to raise even 15% of their goal.
In 2019, Nobe had a mysterious fire at the factory where most, if not all, of the assets of the company burnt down. Without funds, tools, plans, or finances, they somehow rebounded from this in record time to emerge in a much bigger facility in Tallinn despite claiming to have no insurance proceeds from the fire due to a policy not being available because of highly inflammable lithium batteries and having it widely reported that the company was in extreme financial distress.
In 2019 and 2020, Nobe had reached out to new investors who were Estonian-Americans in the USA (Mati Otsmaa) and Canada (Tom Koger). They secured further investment along with making the new investors part of the key management team including Otsmaa as President. The company was effectively recapitalised when it became Nobe Cars USA Inc. which bought out Seanest OÜ. Engineer Anthony Luzi, who had brought other electric vehicles to market, also joined Nobe Cars USA as an advisor.
However, disagreements resulting from Roman's poor behaviour, dubious business style and a string of past failures soon emerged. This led to the new investors leaving and also going public with their dispute via Estonian media. ERR, Estonia's leading and most reputable TV network, did an investigative report lasting almost 20 minutes. The central theme of the article showed Roman Muljar has no real business credentials, is very untrustworthy and has a history of deception and failures.
Estonian ERR network investigates Roman Muljar: Bankruptcies, criminal charges, business failures found by reporter on CEO Nobe Cars | GT 100 500
Roger Atkins is a promoter of the EV sector under his brand Electric Vehicles Outlook. He claims to have a following on LinkedIn of 300,000 people where he enthusiastically discusses new startups in the sector and helps to promote them.
After seeing Roger at various EV events, including one in Paris, I arranged to meet him in London. I discussed my experience with the E-Roll investment and asked if there was any way he could assist. I expressed my frustrations with their commitment to Nobe to the detriment of E-Roll.
It may have been at this meeting where Roger first heard of Nobe. It wasn't too long before I saw Roger started actively promoting Nobe while offering no help on E-Roll.
As an investor in Estonia and the EV startup market, I expected better from Atlas Partners. If other investors were backing Nobe, I felt they would have a similar or worse experience than I did due to the dishonesty and deceitful behaviour I saw in Meelis Merilo, Ivo Ustav and most of all, Roman Muljar.
I warned Roger that Roman had already angered a number of people and wanted to bring it to his attention urgently. I impressed upon Roger that the investor community is small and won't tolerate entrepreneurs behaving badly and, in many cases, illegally.
I had been the subject of abuse as an investor in E-Roll, and on the ERR report I had now heard a similar, even worse story from investors and former management in Nobe Cars USA.
Roger was having none of it and I suspect he had been promised a possible combination of consulting fees to promote Nobe to his audience, shares in the company and/or a Nobe car. This greed in my mind overshadowed any responsibility to ethics and decency between entrepreneurs and their valued investors. Having worked for a large investment rating agency for almost a decade, I know that without investors, no startup will ever succeed, so they cannot and will not be taken advantage of in any way.
Roger and I had a couple of calls that got rather heated. Consequently, I posted this on Instragram which is a platform where anyone can comment, positively or negatively, as they see fit within the confines of the platform. Roger had a lawyer send me a threatening letter demanding I refrain from commenting on LinkedIn (it was Instagram where I commented that Electric Vehicles Outlook only has 1,300 followers, not the 300,000 he has on LinkedIn) which claimed to be from Nobe's lawyers. I challenged this with several points and the lawyer didn't even reply. Roger took down the post and blocked me on LinkedIn.
Atkins promoting Nobe which helps them
separate investors from their money
followed by reiteration of my warnings
Evidence of Roger's increased involvement with Nobe can be seen in the following Instagram posts:
Roger Atkin's Instagram
I attended the opening day of the Fully Charged Live event in Farnborough, Hampshire on Friday 29th April 2022. As an investor in the EV sector, it was useful to see some of the latest trends, technologies, products and companies.
Of note, Nobe would be there promoting two of their prototype cars, the 100 and 100 GT. Given two years of restricted lockdown travel due to Covid, this would be used as a launch event for Nobe in the UK.
Shortly after the show opened on Friday, Roman Muljar started blaring away loud AC/DC heavy-metal music around 11:30 am to attract attention to his launch speech where he was shouting to the people around him. He was introduced by none other than Roger Atkins wearing a cowboy hat and dark sunglasses indoors. In keeping with his reputation, Roman focused the attention on himself, parading around in a t-shirt he had cut the sleeves off of like a teenager, rather than on the Nobe car or company.
Roman has been described as a narcissist by several people and is clearly one of those who seeks the limelight, wants attention, and thinks everyone will buy whatever he is selling based on his personality, glossing over the absence of sound business fundamentals. Roman and Roger presented themselves as some sort of double act.
Video of Muljar before the alcohol started
flowing and the assault with the bottle
When Roman finished his launch “speech,” he quickly drank a few glasses of champagne while Roger quickly departed to see other stands.
Downing the champagne
that fueled the assault
When the launch buzz settled down, I chatted briefly to Nobe's French engineer Olivier Chabilan about their progress in key areas like certification and homologation. It was clear that they had not yet even finished an Alpha prototype as there were huge milestones yet to be achieved. They would need several million dollars more in investment funds, a lot more key staff and a lot of time and effort to have a fully-functional prototype, let alone bring a Nobe car to market.
Interestingly, nobody from that crowd was allowed to sit in either Nobe Car. I had seen several photos where the interior looked too cramped for two adults. There was no proper luggage space in the Nobe except a shelf behind the seats and no digital dash or interior electronics such as electric seats or windows. My sense was they were relying on styling alone to sell the product and certainly no test drives as it was likely unable to perform well. Selling a 3-wheel car is challenging as this is a niche market and there has never been a long-term success story with cars having less than 4 wheels.
Nobe had appeared at the Geneva Motor Show in 2019 and, despite a lot of press covering its quirky looks (love it or hate it type of car), its dubious sales figures were still well under 500 units. This compares with Germany's Sion solar electric car getting 17,000+ orders to date and the US 3-wheeler, Aptera, getting 35,000 (as of October 2022).
Nobe had most likely inflated their order claims of 500+, as more than 50% of this relates to a "potential order" of 300+ Nobes from a single potential customer. However, this was simply a supposed letter of intent that nobody was allowed to see because it is apparently under a Non-Disclosure Agreement. In other words, Nobe had managed to get a lot of attention, but were still far away from the promised production in 2022 having started in 2014. They still had to raise many millions and take many huge steps to take the first prototypes to an actual certified car that could be manufactured and delivered to customers.
The investors from Sweden will likely never see a return on investment as Roman made a comment to the Nobe Cars USA management that he doesn't plan to include them unless Nobe Cars has a Swedish registered entity. Of great concern is the international trail here where assets and factory are located in Tallinn, Estonia, money was raised in Sweden under Seanest OÜ, the main legal entity is Nobe Cars USA and fundraising is focused in the United States, and the key engineering firms are in UK. Nobe has claimed to be actively working with Lotus (untrue) and Sandy Munro and Associates (initially true but this partnership broke down from my understanding after Munro received a mule prototype which didn't have a battery pack). Munro asked for the car to be shipped back to Tallinn and Nobe left them with a $250,000 debt. Nobe’s international web of deception reminds me of the ball trick where people guess which cup it is under after the three cups are shuffled around at speed.
The status of Nobe was beginning to look like a 3-wheel car version of E-Roll: a good-looking design but entrepreneurs who did not know how to treat investors, misrepresented their products and production and deliveries are much, much further away than promised if they ever happen at all. There is a point where many garage efforts are merely people messing around in a hobby-type way: tinkering, making things and it's all a lot of fun vs. a real effort that can get from the garage to production. Recall the story of the world's richest man, Elon Musk: after payout from his PayPal exit, he came across Tesla and Martin Eberhard. He put in an initial $10 million but after some time and two more CEOs, he stepped in himself and took over the company with his huge vision and capabilities. While Eberhard founded Tesla, Musk did not see him as the person to lead it into production. The rest is history as Tesla's market capitalisation reached more than $1 trillion to make it one of just a handful of companies to ever achieve this. Tesla became the world's most valuable car company leading the world away from petrol and diesel to an electric future.
In various interviews, Roman has displayed large delusions of grandeur by claiming Nobe will be bigger than Mini and be making hundreds of thousands of cars per year. To add to the 3-wheeler 100, Nobe has started on a mockup of a truck and van. Many have commented that Roman might be the modern equivalent of Elizabeth Carmichael, the founder of the oddly-shaped Dale car that made 3 prototypes, took in millions of dollars and never succeeded, possibly never even intending to make a car.
What I wondered looking at Nobe was, that while it was eye-catching and unique, how many people would really buy a small 3-wheel car from Estonia with a high price, no serious range, low speed and little luggage capacity? In the video for FundedByMe in 2018, Nobe claimed a 300-mile range which was later cut to 160 miles. Top speed was only 90 mph but was later claimed it would be 120+ mph. In other words, they didn't seem to have a clue what the main stats were around the car and therefore, the engineering needs and funding could not be firmly established or believed.
Of key note, Nobe Cars USA are at the beginning of trying to do a current raise of $4 million in USA, to be followed by a raise of up to $75 million despite the negative ERR article and fallout with voting shareholders, Otsmaa and Koger. Therefore, Farnborough was a key date in their calendar to get positive press and global coverage to help their funding.
Although I had spoken to Roman by phone in November 2019 upon learning he had poached the E-Roll team, I had never met him in person.
When things settled down around the Nobe stand, I introduced myself to Roman meeting him just a few feet outside Nobe’s booth. As five years had passed since my investment in E-Roll took place in 2017, I was hoping to find a positive way forward where we could amicably agree how to progress both E-Roll and Nobe simultaneously. Knowing what had history of that Nobe Cars USA had with its own investors and senior management did not make things easier for anyone.
What happened next was entirely unexpected.
Upon shaking my hand and hearing my name, Roman said "You'll be summoned by the court and in Estonia, too". Having started out with threats of a legal dispute between us, he then switched tactics from solving his business disputes with lawyers to solving them through extreme physical violence.
He then unexpectedly shoved aggressively me backwards with his hand on my shoulder and snarled "Get off my fucking stand". I was in the aisleway and not even in his booth when I introduced myself and he forced me back another five or ten feet into bustling crowd so he could threaten me unobserved, so I reminded him "I'm free to walk around the show like anyone as I paid entry for a ticket".
He then threatened me with
I was so shocked by his behaviour and couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and asked him “I’m sorry, what did you say?” He repeated it over and over, more viciously each time.
Rather than having a civilised business chat as I had intended, he rapidly started down the road of a thuggish course of getting physical along with further threats violence. Regardless of how that would turn out, this was not the way I handled conflict, and I was worried knowing that even one solid punch had the potential to kill either one of us if I needed to retaliate.
He was aggressive, forceful, and angry, likely fueled by the several glasses of champagne he had consumed that morning right after his launch speech. He was looking for a street fight and blocked out the fact that several thousand people were surrounding us in the main hall at Farnborough. Seeing he was about to strike me, I immediately tried to derail his rage, asking "Are you sure you really want to do that right in the middle of the show, as CEO and Founder of Nobe?"
He then bolted over to the Nobe stand to seize a glass bottle, and made a beeline straight back towards me, holding it in a way to indicate that he was ready to use it to strike me hard in the head or cut my face. Brandishing the bottle, he kept looking at his death grip on the bottle to me and back at the bottle again, to telegraph to me that he was about to use it as a weapon against me and wanted me to know it. This technique, common in bar fights, is known as “glassing” where someone is hit in the head and face with a bottle, which is often broken at the onset of the attack. That this was his immediate, instinctive reaction made it clear that this is likely the way he was accustomed to dealing with it when he was called out with the truth or he did not get his way. Be aware that I had done nothing up to this time aside from introducing myself. Though I could hold my own, I was shaking with adrenaline as my body prepared to put a stop to an attack I was sure was imminent. Finally, he noticed we were in a crowded venue and stalked off back to the Nobe stand.
Photographed after the incident,
Muljar still has death grip on bottle
Here he was as an Estonian guest and supposed businessman in the UK, portraying himself as the leader of an electric vehicle company on the verge of landing himself in jail with charges of a violent attack. From this single encounter, it became easy to understand how Roman had already mistreated many others (me, investors in Nobe Cars USA, FundedByMe investors, in addition to his numerous past business failures) and had no right ask new investors for a significant sum of $4 million. This outrageous incident confirmed for me the lack of moral fabric of Roman Muljar.
Boiling over with rage, he was unable to control his emotions and was willing to gamble: the entire future of Nobe, his employees, partners, investors, customers, severe injury to himself and possibly others, along with the reputations of Estonia and the EV community. Had I not been able to de-escalate his attack, the future of Nobe Cars, if it ever had any, would have been at risk as well as all the investments in it, if they have not been lost already.
I have never heard of anything like this in the auto sector (or any sector) where one person would “deck” another who was working to find an equitable agreement at a public show. It would be unheard of, extremely serious and create global headlines. Roman had nothing to gain from this except the loss of Nobe and a prison sentence.
No figurehead of any company can behave in that manner. It was the behaviour of a criminal and one that acted like a street thug. Had I not been able to stop the attack, the CEO of Nobe Cars could have ended up with as much as life in prison for the charge of Grievous Bodily Harm.
He obviously finally realized that carrying out his threats in a public place would have resulted in his arrest and prosecution. However, the damage was done as they say: Roman proved himself to be the biggest fool I have ever met in business.
The previous actions, such as phone calls and e-mails, I had already taken to protect others from him were now proven to be fully warranted. My intuitions were right that Roman must not be allowed to take any new money from new investors, anywhere. Those who enabled Roman, like Roger Atkins, would be just as guilty of essentially aiding and abetting in taking investors' and depositors' money in a scheme that would never produce cars or profits, hence my earlier warnings to Roger.
I immediately reported the incident to the show organiser and Farnborough's Head of Security. Amazingly, Farnborough claimed they didn't have any CCTV to replay the incident. I then called the Police on 999 [equivalent to 911 in USA] to report the incident. They provided a crime reference number and said they wouldn't come to the event as I was no longer in any immediate danger and the incident had been reported to the organizer and security.
Ironically, I had reached out to the show organiser, Jo Ceasar, a few weeks before Fully Charged to warn them of Roman and the financial and business issues documented above. After the incident with Roman, I met Jo in the organiser's office and told her of the incident. I had a slightly cool reaction from her, and I think I know why: Roger Atkins knows Robert Llewelyn very well who serves as the leading face fronting Fully Charged. To them, Nobe was a paying exhibitor who also wanted to attend their shows in Amsterdam and San Diego to promote their car. It was probably easier to downplay what I reported rather than refuse entry to Nobe for future events. They were protecting their income source. However, they should have known that allowing this behaviour by Roman is likely to end up with others being threatened, injured, and stolen from and result in the police responding to crimes at future events.
Altogether, an outrageous incident.
In my call to the Police, they said Roman had committed two possible crimes: A) Public Order Offense and B) Common Assault. Had he struck me in premeditated anger as he threatened, that would have been a third offense and the most serious: C) GBH or Grievous Bodily Harm.
The UK's Crown Prosecution Service, or CPS, defines the crimes below:
Gov't descriptions of:
Verbal Abuse & Harassment
Grievous Bodily Harm
Having formerly done business in Estonia while working in the finance sector, I was always impressed at the level of innovation that came from this small nation. After it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonian entrepreneurs earned a reputation for punching well above their weight with companies like Skype. However, in the case of both Atlas Partners and Nobe Cars, we have seen so-called entrepreneurs mistreat investors and give Estonia a bad name. It is up to international investors and Estonia to work together to ensure the highest levels of ethics, accountability and protection for everyone backing new ideas from Estonia, particularly in the promising and much-needed electric-vehicle sector. Despite the difficulties with E-Roll and Nobe, I continue to have faith in Estonia's long-term potential and the eternal optimist in me will believe that as this story unfolds we will all find way to a compromise solution for the benefit of everyone.
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