8 Year Wait For De Tomaso Ends Abruptly

Former CEO Accuses De Tomaso Majority Shareholder

It’s been only a few years since the comeback of Italian luxury automaker De Tomaso was announced, followed by the reveal of the stunning P72 supercar. Unfortunately, the situation has taken a sour turn after a new lawsuit was filed in New York federal court against the company and its majority shareholder, Sung-Fung “Norman” Choi, as well as others.

Ryan Berris, the complainant, was appointed to revive the De Tomaso business. However, he now avers that Choi, an affluent investor from Hong Kong, duped him. Allegedly, among other shady actions, Choi ousted Berris from his positions of Chief Executive Officer, Chief Marketing Officer and co-owner when attempting to infiltrate the global motor market by procuring outmoded marques.

Things deteriorated to the point where Berris was threatened with physical harm and had to stay in seclusion for more than a year before submitting this lawsuit.

Berris steered the re-emergence of De Tomaso to the point where the business had recruited a bunch of key employees and technological associates, but already had an extensive backlog. This revival was developing as intended, even going so far as revealing the P900 – a track only car with a massive 900 horsepower V12 motor able to reach up to 12,300 rpm – late last year. But his claims signal that maybe things weren’t as pleasant as they initially seemed.

He accused Choi of attempting to make the corporation go public through a deceptive SPAC method, manufacturing fictitious financial statements to trick buyers. Furthermore, giant deposits were paid for some vehicles, and these were undeniable or invalid. The P72 was expected to be available in the market for €750,000 – approximately $800,000 at present exchange rates, which is significantly pricey but lower than a fraction of the fee of a luxurious model such as Bugatti Chiron.

Moreover, certain merchandise was fashioned that did not adhere to the stipulations which had been announced to customers. Apollo, a car manufacturer related to De Tomaso, was utilized by Choi and a partner labeled Michael Choi (not attached), as fronts for a pump-and-dump plot. This was with the aim of misinforming the company’s financial standing so as to peddle it at a greater tariff than what it truly was worth, thereby starting to take its toll on Berris’ accomplishments.

“For years, I devoted most of my time to creating a reborn De Tomaso that would be deserving of the brand’s heritage,” Berris said to The Drive. “My clients and I had the same aim – to be part of the De Tomaso tradition and carry it into the future. When I realized Norman Choi was not pursuing the same objectives but was instead taking advantage of the company for his own financial gain and damaging what I had worked so hard to build, I felt betrayed. I have to protect myself and my customers from the destruction Choi has caused.”

Berris reported that he devoted most of his time towards elevating De Tomaso and utilizing well-respected connections such as Roush in order to do so; last year, it was declared that the P72 distinguished by its Roush-modified V8 will be manufactured in the US.

There had been indications of difficulty early on, such as the unaccounted-for funding for the P72. This grievance includes a conversation in which Choi asserted that he would be making a personal contribution to De Tomaso of $3.1 million; however, this cash purportedly originated from an obscure business in Hong Kong called Sino Vision, with it possibly being passed through a shell company and into De Tomaso.

Further claims were brought forth that Choi forced Berris to utilize questionable suppliers, made inaccurate statements to deposit-holders concerning deadlines, and provided Berris with a remuneration of $33,000 during his appointment at De Tomaso regardless of the assurance of millions in money. Moreover, Genesis’ Chief Financial Officer Samuel Lui connived with Choi to deceive governing bodies about investments timelines while Lui – not being formally attached to De Tomaso – tried to get Berris to change financial models.

Choi and Lui chose to proceed with the initial public offering, which ultimately led to Berris’ removal. Despite being requested to sign a document that would absolve De Tomaso of any potential future claims, Berris refused. This prompted Lui to warn him that “things would not end well” if he didn’t sign the letter. Fearing for his safety and reputation, Berris went into hiding.

“As this lawsuit makes clear,” stated Berris, “the defendants took advantage of my industry experience, important contacts, and marketing savvy to disguise their true goal, which was to acquire a fraudulent profit, even if it meant damaging the De Tomaso brand’s image.”

The revival endeavors of De Tomaso have seemingly been mired by trouble, with James Glickenhaus publicly blaming the corporation for cloning designs for its P72 and of lifting the interior design from Horacio Pagani. The suit filed by Berris, however, is much grimmer, potentially hindering further advancement made by De Tomaso during the last few years.

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