In August 2016 Dagens Næringsliv, “Norway’s leading business publication”, released a critical 16-page article about Jostein and his new venture. The article covered the Labyrinth of how money passed to Alevo, and between its companies, including how a large amount of the invested funds were sent straight to Jostein’s BVI company, Clydemont Finance Ltd. According to Ernst & Young in Norway, 16 investors sent a total of $ 33 million there as a loan to Jostein, even before Alevo was established. In return these investors received shares in Alevo. Some of this was used to invest in shares of fortu Powercell, the company which had established Alevo’s technology, but another NOK 200 million or so ($30 million) was unaccounted for. According to another of Jostein’s lawyers, Kyrre Eggen, this was used for salaries, development costs, etc. Neither Jostein nor Alevo has ever documented this for shareholders.
The article revealed the person behind the innovative battery technology as Dr Günther Hambitzer. In order to help Jostein secure the battery technology DLA Piper produced a document which was labelled “strictly private and confidential” and “by hand only” which contained the information that “based on information that is made available to me through my work for Clydemont Finance Ltd I estimate that the net liquidity of ownership in Clydemont Finance Ltd and other companies controlled by Mr Jostein Eikeland and are over 150-200 million Euros”. This was signed by Tord Eide in April 2011. As Tord Eide points out in 2016, however, “the documents do not in any way point to any companies that Eikeland controls as having positive share capital”.
Based on assurances from DLA Piper, Hambitzer entered into an agreement to grant the majority ownership of fortu Powercell to Clydemont Finance. With Jostein as the main shareholder fortu quickly went into bankruptcy. In a letter to fortu shareholders it was stated “the company is in a liquidity crisis which is a result of Alevo not paying its share of the convertible loan, despite repeated assurances”. Jostein was able to buy the IP rights for € 350,000 from the liquidator.
Mr Hambitzer remarks about many elementary problems with Alevo’s productions facilities, including that it lets in humidity which can have dire consequences for the batteries he has designed. This is refuted by the company.
The article mentions the many transactions between Jostein and the company. Included is $30 million paid by Alevo in shares to Jostein and his friends to acquire Data Scientia, later renamed Alevo Analytics. In the 2016 account this investment was subsequently depreciated by CHF 9.7 million (about the same amount in US$).
Based on public documents the newspaper has obtained Jostein has sold between 1.5 and 3 million shares in Alevo with an estimated price of $70 per share, so he has sold out for between $105 and $210 million. At the same time, there are registered creditors against Jostein for a total of CHF 12 million according to public records. The company stresses to the newspaper “that it has raised CHF 200 million in equity from highly professional investors”.
The Dagens Næringsliv article of August 2016 covers much of Jostein’s background, and notably people who have been burnt by having dealings with him. Per-Erik Bjertnæs is interviewed and describes how he taught Jostein many of his business tricks whilst working as a partner, but was then backstabbed.
Bjertnæs taught Jostein the “Cashba” financing system – for “cash and barter”. This is based on pre-selling wares and services, and of using the income to build up the company. This way Jostein learnt how a small company could become large in a short time. One method is to “issue the largest possible amount of shares at the lowest possible price, and then you need to control most of the shares – control of the company is important as you can then set the value of the shares to raise capital”. Bjertnæs continues “it is about getting the money in, and to pay as much as possible using shares, this way the money arrives where it should, in your own pocket”.
Tellingly Bjertnæs reveals “it is easy to keep a project going as long as there is money around. As soon as the money runs out the company will be bankrupted. During this time it is nevertheless possible to make lots of money. This isn’t illegal, but it can be misused. Jostein has previously shown that he is both too impatient and too greedy.”