An ex-child actress accused of trying to sully the reputation of a venture fund co-founded by Peter Thiel now claims that the tech tycoon himself raised concerns about fraud at the firm.
Crystal McKellar — who played Becky Slater on “The Wonder Years” before going on to become a Harvard-trained lawyer who worked at Thiel’s Mithril Capital — alleged in a countersuit filed Thursday that Mithril’s managing director, Ajay Royan, lied to the VC firm’s investors about the fees he was charging, the size of his team and the value of his investments.
The 43-year-old McKellar likewise claims that Thiel — who has gained notoriety for being one of President Trump’s few supporters in Silicon Valley — was particularly concerned about Mithril reducing the size of its investment team.
In a conversation with McKellar, the suit filed in a San Francisco federal court claims, Thiel asked her whether Royan had suffered from a “mental episode” or was “engaged in a massive financial fraud,” according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the counterclaim.
McKellar, who in February exited the firm co-founded by Thiel and Royan in 2012, doesn’t name Thiel as defendant in the suit. Having served as Mithril’s only general counsel, McKellar added that she felt she could address an alleged “ongoing fraud” at Mithril only by reaching out to federal authorities.
Mithril Thursday issued a statement calling McKellar’s lawsuit “a thinly veiled attempt to divert attention from her own wrongdoing.” The company said its “success and performance speaks for itself.”
It’s the latest salvo in a legal battle initiated in Texas state court by Mithril, which last month accused McKellar of trying to “sow discord” between Mithril and its investors by penning inflammatory, anonymous, handwritten letters to its investors — despite exiting the firm with a $225,000-a-year consulting gig.
The letters weren’t signed, but their envelopes sometimes contained a return address with the initials of the purported sender.
Mithril said it identified McKellar as the initial writer after subjecting the letters to forensic handwriting analysis, according to the suit. She has denied being their author.
Later last month, Mithril filed a separate suit in Delaware Chancery Court, claiming McKellar deleted nearly 2,000 text messages from her work phone before returning it to the fund in September.
The follow-up suit also accused McKellar of the “unauthorized removal, destruction, and attempted destruction of Mithril records and property.”
Both suits filed by Mithril allege McKellar violated non-compete clauses with the VC firm by joining other investment firms and by trying to poach clients.
McKellar’s suit seeks to recoup at least $30 million in lost compensation, plus another $30 million for damages from the fallout she said she suffered because she told the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission about mismanagement at Mithril, which earlier this year moved from the Bay area to Austin, Texas.
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