Are Mr Oozi Cats and Mr Uzi Katz one and the same? Is Uzi Katz, the “fugitive” wanted in the U.S. for fraud 25 years ago, the same man as Oozi Cats, the boss of a big Israeli technology firm listed in London? So says an Italian newspaper.
The allegations, made this week against the Telit chief executive by il Fatto Quotidiano, prompted Cats to go to ground, taking “a voluntary leave of absence,” leaving finance director Yosi Fair to run the AIM-listed company.
The paper claims that Cats is in fact Katz, who – together with an associate and his wife Ruth – was indicted by a district court in Boston in 1992 over allegations of wire fraud. The couple slipped the country before the plea hearing.
News that Cats, who founded Telit in Israel in 2000, may in fact be a wanted man did nothing for Telit’s share price, which lost a third of its value on the news, and which has hired its own investigator.
This follows disappointing financial figures announced earlier in the week, sending the share price down another 35 percent. The company, which supplies Tesla among others, was valued at £500 million earlier this year.
The share price crash may not matter to Cats, who cashed in his chips in May this year, selling his seven million personal shares in the company and bagging £24 million in the process. Fair himself sold £1.5 million of shares last month.
The Italian investigators are believed to have been launched after Telit, which offers “end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT) solutions,” sought and received millions of euros in research funding from the Italian government, after it bought an Italian company.