QSolar founder speaks out as legal claims escalate

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The founder of defunct module maker QSolar has broken his silence to defend himself as a legal case against him in Canada escalates.

Andreas Tapakoudes, who gave his first interview to the Calgary Herald earlier this month, insists there was no wrong-doing on his part during his time at the company, which collapsed last year.

In June 2015, PV Tech reported that QSolar was using the TUV SUD kite mark on modules that it did not have certificates for. PV Tech made numerous attempts to contact Tapakoudes at the time but was unsuccessful. He has now presented PV Tech with a ream of paperwork addressing several points made in the story back in June, including the issue of the certification.

“Being a CEO and technology specialist in a publicly listed company is not a stroll in the park. Corporations with billions of dollars in reserves receive shareholder criticism and accusations all the time,” he said. “When these toxic postings were published I was so disappointed that I just did not want to even discuss them. But when these statements became part of litigation and started being used inappropriately, then I decided to break my silence as I have absolutely nothing to hide, and from now on I will certainly not be silent.”

Certificates
With regard to the TUV SUD certificates, Tapakoudes insists that IEC rules, that certain similar products including modules within +/-10% of the tested module can be covered without additional testing, mean that the module in question was in fact covered by the valid certificate that QSolar had for another product. TUV SUD has reiterated to PV Tech that the kite mark can only be used on products listed on the specific certificate, even if they fall within the IEC’s +/-10% threshold, and is not automatically applied. The module model in question does not appear on the certificate Tapakoudes showed PV Tech, even though it falls within the +/-10% margin. TUV SUD and Tapakoudes remain at odds in their respective positions over the certification issue.

Tapakoudes also points out that the company’s products had passed further TUV SUD and UL tests, but was not able to settle its outstanding bill and obtain the certificates. PV Tech has seen documents confirming the passes, which included UL fire testing. He stresses that the company only ever stated that it had passed the tests and never claimed to have the certificates resulting from them.

Company records
QSolar shareholder and one of the court-appointed directors during the firm’s latter stages, Bill MacDonald, told PV Tech in June that only three boxes of company paperwork had been provided to the interim board in order to undertake due diligence. Tapakoudes has provided email correspondence from its former law firm MacLeod Law LLP stating that a USB [a memory drive] had also been provided. One email states that the firm “made all corporate records [available] to them”.

“The suggestion that QSolar’s former directors engaged in any impropriety is quite simply, unfounded and utterly false,” said Tapakoudes.

It was also stated last year that the interim board had not been able to contact QSolar’s former board. Further correspondence provided by Tapakoudes shows that the old board’s law firm, MacLeod, had been in contact with MacDonald.

Funds
Tapakoudes has also provided financial documentation that shows a series of transfers from his account to the company covering expenses from salaries to credit card bills, that he says demonstrates how he used the proceeds of a share sale to prop up the company in its final stages.

“I have supplied every single payment transaction, with official bank statements, receipts, that prove beyond any doubt that I used all share proceeds to keep the company alive (US$746,528), plus US$234,861 from personal savings,” he said.

“The total amount was US$981,389. I did not claim to be putting the money back into the company; I did in fact do so,” he said in reference to a corporate update published last year that warned shareholders the money from Tapakoudes was “not assured”.  

In the Calgary Herald story, MacDonald said he was surprised Tapakoudes had come forward now and said the old management had “underdelivered”. PV Tech contacted MacDonald who said the documents on the USB stick were of no use owing to the “inscrutable” accounting structure.

The lawsuit in Canada remains open at the time of writing.

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