Bolt ‘insolvent’: partner calls in €1.6 million debt

Bolt from the blue: popular mobility operator facing legal dissolution request

Known for their ubiquitous food delivery scooters and cheap taxis, mobility operator Bolt could be facing an uncertain future in Malta if a court request filed on Friday is upheld.

In two separate applications filed before the commercial court, one of the shareholders in the company operating Bolt’s mobile-app technology – TXF Tech – has sued the same company and TXF Tunisia Holding for €1.6 million, over the non-payment of two constitutions of debt.

The shareholder, Debono Group Holdings, owners of the Toyota dealership in Malta amongst other concerns.

Debono Group accused Bolt of being “legally insolvent” despite its operations appearing to be going swimmingly, on Maltese streets, and suggested that the profits generated by the operation are not being channelled towards the payment of its debts.

TXF Tech is Bolt’s operating partner in Malta, Cyprus and Tunisia, and a shareholder in BLT Malta and BLT Food Malta, where it runs the food delivery, taxi hailing, and scooter-renting platforms. The company outsources courier and driver services to self-employed workers and recruitment agencies.

The Debono Group, a 20% shareholder in TXF Tech, entered into constitutions of debt with TXF tech and affiliated companies TXF Tunisia and TXF Cyprus in September 2020: through these instruments, TXF Tech constituted itself as a debtor of Debono’s company for the sum of €1,615,285; TXF Tunisia and TXF Cyprus also constituted themselves as debtors to the tune of €195,518 and €50,743 respectively.

The constitutions of debt were rendered executable by a judicial letter sent on 14 October 2020 and on 6 November, a garnishee for €1,615,285 was put into place after the relevant request was upheld by the court. This process was replicated with regards to the other debtors registered in Malta, TXF Tunisia.

Now Debono Group has informed the court that despite the agreement being rendered executive and the passage of 24 weeks since the execution of the executive title, the debt remains unpaid.

It pointed out that on 8 July it received the “miserable sum (especially in the context of the larger debt owed by Debono of over a million, six hundred thousand euros) of €195,518.”

Because of the pending debts owed by TXF and Bolt, Debono engaged in discussions with the operator over several months, where during these discussions, Debono would receive many promises of payment, exhibiting a letter from Jacob Frank Appell for TXF Tech Ltd and Nikita Utkins for Bolt OU – Bolt’s founding Estonian parent company – assuring them that the debt would be paid.

Today, the creditor company said, with the benefit of hindsight, it could see that the promises were “empty and fraudulent” and intended only to convince Debono not to take judicial action, whilst allowing the companies to continue operating unhindered.

“Today it is clear that the financing of the company could only have happened with monies belonging to the creditors of TXF Tech, including Debono.

“Despite Bolt’s operations appearing, at least in the streets of Malta, to be going swimmingly, the money owed to Debono has not been paid. It is difficult for one to understand how a company which is legally insolvent is still operating with an evidently strong presence in the local market.

“It is also difficult to understand where the money and profits generated by the operation are going, the manner in which employees are being paid and the manner in which monies and payments owed between TXF Tech and affiliated companies… are being made without the transfers being stuck under the garnishee orders mentioned.”

The plaintiff also rued that it was hard to understand how, despite the strength of the local operation, Debono’s credit remained unpaid.

Besides this, TXF Tech and TXF Tunisia had failed to present their financial statements and audited accounts as required by law, claimed Debono.

Debono Group’s lawyers Malcom Falzon and Jasmine Abela requested that a provisional administrator be appointed by the court, together with the court’s declaration that the defendant company is unable to meet its financial commitments.

The lawyers also requested that the court order the dissolution and winding up of the both TXF Tech Ltd and TXF Tunisia Holding Ltd.