Yaniv Bertele.

Ousted Vesttoo CEO appoints combative director to fight hostile board

Co-founder Yaniv Bertele, who was officially fired by the board last week, has brought in attorney Ziv Ironi, regarded in Israel as a pioneer in the area of director activism, to fight on his behalf

Co-founder and former CEO of Vesttoo, Yaniv Bertele, has appointed attorney Ziv Ironi to serve on Vesttoo’s board on his behalf. Calcalist has learned that as of yesterday (Wednesday), Ironi is acting as Bertele's representative at the insurtech company, which has been grappling with a fraud scandal over recent months.
Ironi has served as an active director of many companies down the years and is regarded in Israel as a pioneer in the area of director activism, setting legal precedents in the field.
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יניב ברטלה  וסטו
יניב ברטלה  וסטו
Yaniv Bertele.
(Photo: Vesttoo)
The Vesttoo board of directors officially fired Bertele and Chief Financial Engineer Alon Lifshitz last week. This decision came in light of the investigation by financial and risk advisory Kroll, which looked into the alleged fraud at the fintech firm. Bertele and Lifshitz were placed on paid leave earlier last month shortly after the alleged fraud surrounding letters of credit (LOCs) was revealed.
In a message sent earlier this week to current and former employees at the company, Bertele claimed that "Due to the fraud that was uncovered, Alon and I have endured more than a month of an unprecedented assault, including a decision-making process that disregards fundamental principles of good governance, secret meetings from which we were excluded, accusations, defamation, and falsehoods. The decisions and statements have one common objective – to shift blame onto us and tarnish our reputation and names.”
The Vesttoo board, which included current interim CEO Ami Barlev, Pasha Romanovski, General Partner of Hanaco Ventures, and Chris Gottschalk, General Partner at Mouro Capital, alongside the three founders of the company, initiated an external investigation when the scandal emerged. According to Bertele, the initial investigation was entrusted to the Meitar law firm, but shortly afterward, was reassigned to Kroll, which he says is operating under a conflict of interest and has ties to members of the board of directors.
Ironi, who will take Bertele’s place on the board, believes that the board is taking the easy route of blaming the CEO for the company's problems without providing evidence. Ironi has a history of leading legal battles against boards. Currently, Ironi is leading a fight against the controlling owners of the public company Erika B-Cure, a company that manufactures B-Cure laser devices. Bertele hopes that Ironi's assertiveness will facilitate his return to Vesttoo.