TRURO - The local inventor of the Pure Power Mouthguard (PPM) says legal attempts by a former CEO to halt the company's operations are really an attempt to create bad publicity.
"Was I surprised that I got them," Anil Makkar of Makkar Athletics Group Inc., said regarding court documents recently served to him on behalf of former CEO Kris Astaphan.
"Yes," said the Truro busnessman. "Was I surprised that he did it? No. Because his whole objective, always, is to put the PPM in a bad limelight ... He didn't deal in good faith. That is going to be our defense."
Makkar was recently served with the court papers after his company refused to honour a consent agreement it had reached with Astaphan to pay his numbered company slightly more than $1.6 million as part investment repayment and part dismissal settlement. Makkar had also agreed to pay Astaphan $80,00 in expenses.
Astaphan was hired as CEO by Makkar Athletics in March 2009 and fired last fall because of what Makkar describes as "poor performance" and an attempt to devalue the company in an effort to force a cash call from shareholders.
Astaphan said he, his family and business partners invested more than $1 million into the company and his whole purpose now is to simply recover those funds.
"I need to get my family's money back," he said in a telephone interview from his Oakville, Ont. home. "I have a judgement of a Nova Scotia court. I am enforcing the judgement. Dr. Makkar had agreed to pay me and he breached that agreement."
Makkar agrees the agreement was breached but says the move came at the last minute when he and other company shareholders realized that Astaphan had created a competing athletic mouth guard company called Triumphant Athletics Group Inc., "a direct ripoff of PPM."
"The investors saw that and they said we are not paying this guy," Makkar said. "I can't blame the investors for doing that. I mean, why would anybody give a guy this amount of money when he had done this?
"We were giving him a profit of $500,000 (plus legal expenses). Why would a guy not wait to get his money first and then launch his company? And the only thing we can figure out is that he wants to screw us."
Astaphan did not want to discuss the formation of his mouth guard company, saying the monetary settlement that had been reached was an entirely separate matter. And he also disputed Makkar's claims that other shareholders were in agreement with not paying the settlement.
"I've spoken to a number of them and they know nothing about this," he said. "I am just sick and tired of this."
Makkar said he is also getting frustrated with the ongoing issue but the matter is now in the hands of his company's lawyers.
In the meantime, no assets have been frozen, he said, and his mouth guard company continues to operate.
"The good news for us as a company," Makkar said, "is that we have a lot of professional athletes who support our company."