The dirty, rotten, double crossing, true story of how Apply DS was stolen from its founder in the most unbelievable ways
Update – July 7th, 2022: The masterminds behind the theft against Apply now stand in criminal court + more updates // The following article has been updated with some of the latest information that has become available about this case. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find out more about the most recent developments
Update – May 25th, 2020: Bribing of Apply board members uncovered + more updates // The following article has been updated with some of the latest information that has become available about this case. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find out more about the most recent developments.
For Spanish version click HERE
April 3rd, 2019, 8:45AM: Thomas Martensson, founder of Apply Digital Systems, receives threats via WhatsApp from his COO FRODE NORDSETH. He said “I think you should take the offer, meet up with me and Chris Bouwer or the office will be empty on Monday”. Nordseth blackmailed the founder in an attempt to force Martensson to hand over shares and control of his own company worth over 10M€. The founder refused. What happened next is something out of a movie…
Everyone knows the tales… It all starts with a super greedy investor who wants more, thinks the founder has too much equity and takes matters into his own hands. By flashing the cash and having the founder hire some big corporate guy to run the business, together with his new ally, this super greedy investor proceeded to manipulate the team to rally against the founder and throw him out of his own company. You are probably asking yourself, how could such a thing be possible? Well, in this particular tale, just like in the movies, the investor and his accomplices got very creative in their mission to overthrow the founder.
This is the story of Apply Digital Systems. An internationally acclaimed tech company founded by Thomas Martensson, that completely revolutionised the current market by introducing a highly innovative and world leading no-code platform for agile and accelerated app development. Some of the world’s most well-known companies such as General Electric and Microsoft have signed with Apply, while press such as Forbes, El Mundo, El Pais, ABC and La Vanguardia all labelled Apply as the next big thing in tech. This is the same company that was stolen from its founder by early investor Chris Leonard Bouwer and a group of former Apply employees. Through defamation, extortion, theft, conspiracy and other characteristics of an organised crime group took by force the company and everything the press had said it was and would be.
This all starts in early 2019, when investor Chris Leonard Bouwer and director of operations Frode Nordseth (an old acquaintance of Bouwer and hired on his advise) set in motion their carefully premeditated strategy to discredit founder Thomas Martensson (behind his back), by framing him for fraud whilst blackmailing him in an attempt to force him to handover the company and his shares. Nordseth and his accountant produced counterfeit account documents showing that the founder had expenses of over 170.000€, which together with some 10 year old blog post about a failed venture Martensson was involved in, were sent to every potential client, investor and even the founder’s family. Suspiciously enough, the founder’s own home had also been broken into on March 17th, 2019 by unknown individuals, who stole all of his personal and business documents, but absolutely no valuable items. One of these documents was later found in the possession of Chris Bouwer, confirming that this was their (failed) attempt to find any incriminating documents they could use to blackmail and discredit Thomas.
They started a wave of defamation where Nordseth even personally went to all clients and investors spreading false news about the company’s financial status alongside with the illicit conduct allegations, sabotaging any possibility of any disbursements or contracts with new clients or investors for Apply. One of Bouwer’s many accusations, for example, was that the founder actively lured investors in, so that he could use their money to pay for his supposedly expensive lifestyle. All false accusations, considering that Bouwer offered himself to take the lead on company investment and it was him who was actively bringing investors in, not Thomas (May 25th, 2020: an update evaluating and debunking Bouwer’s false claims, along with information revealing his true intentions has been added to the article – Find it below the original article in the “update” section). Offers from some of Europe’s most well known investors and VC’s were on the table, but Nordseth and Bouwer actively worked to destroy every single offer that could capitalise Apply, which would hinder their plans. The outcome of this whole storm of events was devastating.
It is essential to highlight that before this story escalated to the levels it did, where all the dirty tricks like this one and double crossing took place, Martensson via his lawyers and a certified notary, had offered to buy out Chris Bouwer ́s investment of 500K plus 9% interest, if he committed to stop these activities. The offer was made on the 23rd April 2019 to Chris Bouwer via “his lawyer” Laurence Van Assche (who turned out to not really be an actual Lawyer). The offer was turned down, showing no intention of conciliation and Bouwer fully decided and to carry out his shameless plan. It is also essential to highlight that the day after the “fraud/misused funds” claims were made by Bouwer, the company’s board and Martensson offered him to perform an audit to corroborate his concerns. All documents and bank statements were sent to Bouwer same day, but he never did it.
Nevertheless, the board and Martensson agreed to hire one of the top international firms to still carry out the audit. Between the 3rd and 5th April, international firm Russell Bedford performed the audit on both Martensson’s specific claimed wrongdoing and the general accounts. The result showed that there was no outstanding “debt” to Apply or wrongdoing, and, on the contrary, the report stated that Martensson had actually privately funded Apply with cash injections from January to March 2019. His injections made it possible to pay out every single salary to the team in time and according to contracts . It was also confirmed that Frode Nordseth along with Apply employees Aurika S. Torgersen and Silvia Martorell had been manipulating the accounts and neglecting errors found on the expenses account. Following the delivery of this report, which denied all the false accusations made about Martensson, the board voted to support him and his proposal moving forward with 10 votes out of 16, where the only ones who voted against were those involved in Bouwer’s dirty plan
After having sunk the company in the market, they proceeded to get the Apply staff team on board, which with all the nasty rumors and false news the investor and COO had spread about the company and his founder, must’ve not been a difficult task. To seal the deal and whilst Martensson was travelling, on the 1st April, Bouwer came into the Apply’s office with his “Lawyer” Laurence VAN ASSCHE telling the team something that probably went on like this: “ Sign with me! Leave Thomas and I’ll take care of you. We have a new company set up two blocks away… But don’t worry! It’s all legal and by the way, Thomas has no money left, he will not last a week and he can’t fight me, I have too much money! “ And in this way, he secured the staff on his side. However, Bouwer was not able to secure key staff member Oscar Lagercrantz, who together with Thomas, had developed all the technology behind Apply and had built the whole value of the company. As for the rest of the team who had no trouble betraying Martensson, the investigation eventually uncovered some messages exchanged by former employees Silvia Martorell and Pedro Rodríguez Codina on the 22nd of March 2019, showing that the team were so joyful about double crossing their founder that they even held a “launching dinner” financed by, wait for it… Apply! All paid with the company’s business debit card. No shame.
Despite all of Nordseth and Bouwer’s efforts so far, Martensson had still not given up his company. That is when things got interesting. During early April 2019, the Apply founder received a threat from Nordseth, which stated that if he did not pay him the sum of 250.000€, which he calculated based on the company’s estimated value at the time and his personal needs, they would empty the company’s office. It is of great importance to mention that Frode Nordseth had gone around spreading rumors that Apply owed him money and that he would sue the company. However, said sue never came and the reality of the whole scenario was very different to the story he told. The agreement made between Apply and Nordseth when he came into the company was very clear, if Nordseth did not succeed with raising the agreed investment amount, Apply had no obligation of paying him a salary. After Nordseth failed, which he also himself acknowledged in an email to Martensson dated 18th March 2019, Nordseth and Martensson agreed to go separate ways and Apply gave actually Nordseth a 10K loan on the 24th of February. So in fact, it was Nordseth who owed money to Apply and not the other way around, but of course a twisted untruthful story of what happened made it much easier to carry out the dirty plan against Apply. All of this was followed by a text message on April 3rd, where the same stated “The office will be empty on Monday [ … ] Monday it will be you and most likely the police in the office”. Were they really serious about it? Emptying an office?
Well, on April 5th 2019 at 9:32am, the former Apply team consisting of Aurika S. Torgersen, Toby Oliver, Gonzalo Eduardo Bruzual Ledezma, Alberto Manza Torregosa, Carles Nuñez Tomeo, Christina Chen, Dario Mancuso, Gonzalo Serrano Revuelta, Mark Andrew Castley, Marta Serrano Gili, Pau Ballad Vazquez, Pedro Javier Rodriguez Codina and Silvia Martorell Gonzalez, proceeded to completely empty Apply’s office. Fully caught on CCTV, the team spent the next hour and fifty-six minutes removing every single thing in the room, including multiple computers, TVs, which were savagely ripped off the walls, iPads, speakers, adapters, a sofa and even the lamp… yes, we’re serious about that last one. Outside waited Marta Serrano with a truck ready to take all the stolen items to their new office in Carrer de Pamplona 90 owned by Chris Bouwer. Not long after the robbery, Aurika S. Torgersen sent Martensson a collective resignation email from the team, which she unashamedly sent from one of the stolen computers, and just a few days later, Marta Serrano also emailed Apply office’s landlord to try to get the company kicked out by warning her that she should be wary of Thomas and end the tenancy immediately because he wouldn’t pay her.
CCTV footage showing Pedro Rodríguez Codina, Marta Serrano Gili, Carles Nuñez, Toby Oliver and Silvia Martorell carrying out the stolen items from Apply’s office in Rambla Catalunya
Source: CCTV camera footage from Police investigation now in court 503/2019E
While the team removed over 40,000 worth in furniture, their biggest reward and obvious target was found inside the computers and other electronic devices containing all the intellectual property, the Apply platform, source code, all the non-code application and the company’s data, which altogether has an estimated value of 12.5 million euros. The team shamelessly extracted all the data and files from the devices, illicitly appropriating intellectual property and then methodically deleted and destructed any evidence of such data. On May 6th, 2019, Toby Oliver, Pedro Rodriguez and Marta Serrano proceeded to return all of the items removed from the office to Martensson. It seems like such a kind act, right? It would have been, if it hadn’t been for the fact that all the devices were returned fully wiped and a multi-million euro theft of intellectual property had taken place. Remembering this was all premeditated, back in April 1st, 2019 before the robbery had even took place, employees Marta Serrano and Pedro Rodríguez were already sharing messages about deleting information off the servers, including the sheets with all usernames and passwords. How long had they been doing all of this in the dark?
As if this was not enough, on May 3rd of 2019, former Apply director Aurika S. Torgensen, who had been presenting big irregularities at work with the accountancy and at some point denying access to the accounts for carrying out audits back when she was still in the company, proceeded to use her permits to contact the bank and blocked any access to the online banking, locking-out the founder from his own accounts. But wait, that’s not all! She also took the time to connect to the company’s website server provider portal and make sure the payment was connected to an Apply bank card, which had been in her ownership. She then blocked the card and cut in half, leaving on her desk for Martensson to find. She deleted the email and phone contact address so the server could not alert Apply about the changes in any way except via the email address [email protected], which belonged to… Aurika S. Torgensen. A few weeks after Aurika changed the payment methods of the company service, Apply’s website went “down” because of an “expired” card under her name. Such cold-blooded betrayal, considering that just a couple months earlier when Aurika had issues with her bank and a mortgage she needed to buy her apartment, she came to Martensson for help, who kindly supported her. He agreed to giving her the 30% raise she needed to get approval, as well as converting her future bonus into fixed salary, all to help her get her apartment. However, when her greed kicked in she had no trouble stabbing him the back and intentionally investing her time in destroying Thomas and his company.
Break-in, theft of the IP and Software alone can give 3-5 years in a Spanish prison. The 6 additional crimes committed by the gang are punishable by law with 5-8 years
By this point of the story, the team, or should we say organised crime group, had completely destroyed the reputation of Apply, stole every single item from their office including the lamps, appropriated all the data and intellectual property, locked the founder out of the bank accounts and deleted the company’s website, so what’s next? What came to light next had been set up weeks in advance and was up and running the same day the robbery took place; a completely new company under the name of App Foundry S.L and the commercial name of Codeless Labs, with Chris Bouwer as its sole owner, which now offers the exact same services as Apply through the use of all the shamelessly stolen data, platform, intellectual property…
It is essential to point out that Apply employees were all subject to confidentiality and professional secrecy clauses in their work contracts, as well as non-competition, both in its non-competition aspect and post-contractual non-competition ones, all of which by this point were breached in unbelievable extents. It is also important to note that that all salaries had been paid and any debt had been settled. Apart from being highly unprofessional and unethical, this also became a highly immoral act considering several people of this team were supported by Thomas when it came to their personal lives and goals. Just like Aurika S. Torgensen was helped out for her apartment, Pedro Codina was also granted by Martensson the 100% salary raise he asked for to be able to support his family and newborn child. Other team members were helped out with their visas, mortgages and such, but they all threw their morals out the window as soon as they could.
To continue their endeavours, App Foundry S.L (Codeless Labs) employees accessed Apply’s servers from where they exported a confidential list of current and potential clients valued at 21.000.000 euros and performed the thorough task of appropriating all of Apply’s clients by contacting and deceivingly getting them to change their contracts from Apply to App Foundry S.L, by stating that the former was over and they were now operating under a new name, still the same team. Carles Nuñez even told everyone how to download data and how to delete it. Furthermore, even before leaving Apply, in early April, Pedro Rodriguez according to his knowledge of the events that were about to go down, re-scheduled to his convenience and still held meetings with potential clients, to maintain the relationships, which he would later transfer to Codeless Labs. Pre-meditated.
Source: Document in police investigation, now in in court with case number 503/2019E
As the perfect example for this, on June 21st, 2019, Thomas received an email back from one of Apply’s clients, the well-known Fira Barcelona. In said email, the company stated that the App Foundry S.L Team had contacted them and used the argument previously mentioned to get them to change the contract, which Fira Barcelona lawyers did not find suspicious at all… They established new contracts, one being a development contract signed with Pedro Rodríguez as Key Account Manager at App Foundry S.L and the second one a service provision one signed with Frode Nordseth as Operations Direction at the same company. It was also found that there had been an invoice issued during the documented business relationship between Fira Barcelona and Apply. This document had been secretly been withheld by former employees Aurika S. Torgensen and Silvia Martorell, and was instead later processed by the new company App Foundry S.L when they changed the contracts, not only benefiting the new ilegal venture, but also causing direct damage to Apply.
Along the way, Toby Oliver and the team have created a series of “cover up” company names such as “Codeless Labs”, which does not trace back to any real legal entity. The use of multiple fake names is a method used by criminals to hide their illicit activities. The only actual one is App foundry SL, which has no website, no LinkedIn profile, no registered employees and only has a commercial register showing Chris Bouwer as the sole owner and Toby Oliver as CEO and Aurika S. Torgersen as Administrator. The latest cover up names that came out of App Foundry were Bravo Studio and Bravo Vision in an attempt to stay out of the limelight. Under these, they launched www.bravostudio.app a couple months ago and managed to get one of the biggest software companies in San Francisco to plug-in Apply’s stolen technology. Nevertheless, their illegal efforts were useless because it wasn’t long before FIGMA (the US company) found out the truth and carried out their own IP rights investigation against them, which lead to the immediate disconnection of Bravo Studio from FIGMA. They also brought to Martensson’s attention that Toby Oliver had testified in writing that he was the CEO behind Bravo Studio, as well as the owner of the software’s IP rights. These statements, have now also landed him and App Foundry, Codeless Labs and Bravo Studio, represented by Marta Serrano and Pedro Codina, a criminal report in the United States. This was not something new, as earlier during the year, Toby Oliver had also emailed a representative from ESADE untruthfully informing him that he was now the CEO of Apply and inviting him to meet up. All a big chain of lies
Source: Source: Document in police investigation, now in in court with case number 503/2019E
And yes… This is, up to date, how to steal a tech company in broad daylight. So why not do a little recap to sum it all up? But to make it more interesting, let’s do it by listing all the criminal offences committed in the acts mentioned above. Directly from the penal code, It goes like this… extortion, breaking and entering, theft incurring special gravity, grave destruction and deletion of data and documents, obtaining and revealing company secrets with whom there is legal or contractual obligation of reservation and reception, obtaining and revealing secrets, an act committed in the core of an organization or criminal group, crimes against intellectual property, belonging to a criminal group of organisation and a couple more, but the point is made. Furthermore, after recent events, this theft escalated to an international level, as it transcended the borders of Spain and some of the people behind the theft are now being investigated in the United States. How many criminal offences will that investigation bring up? The list seems to be growing bigger and bigger for every day that passes.
When this incredible theft was brought to the attention of the Spanish authorities, they took great interest in the case due to its unbelievable nature. After 5 months of investigation by the Spanish Police (Mossos d’Esquadra) the case is now in Criminal court no. 15 in Barcelona, Spain. As the legal process advances, it looks like karma has already started to kick in. TOBY OLIVER has been “let go” from all the other companies and schools that he was involved with, including KFund. FRODE NORDSETH was taken in for questioning by the police, escaping the city immediately after this occurred and fleeing to Dubai to hide out there according to some old colleagues. SILVIA MARTOTRELL has been fired from her new job at E&Y and it is most likely that none of these people will ever get a serious job again once the truth comes to light.
After 6 months of investigation by the Spanish Police (Mossos d’Esquadra) the case is now in Criminal court no. 15 in Barcelona, Spain. Case number 503/2019E
Chris Bouwer, the early investor in Apply, created his own criminal organisation to carry out one of the most brutal thefts in the tech industry’s history. Bouwer went from owning 5% in Apply Digital Systems to 100% in App Foundry SL (according to Mercantil de Barcelona) without paying a single euro. App Foundry SL entire business is based on stolen assets, software from Apply Digital systems. The most unbelievable thing is, despite all of it and how incredible it seems for such a thing to happen, the reality is that to this date it is still going on. This company has been fully operational all these months using everything they acquired from committing this crime. Toby Oliver and his gang are creating a “new company” all for their own financial benefit and at the prejudice of the original company’s founder. That honestly brings up one big question, how do these people sleep at night carrying more than 8 criminal offenses on their backs and having double crossed someone in such a way? It is time for people to reflect about going through life committing such atrocious, selfless acts and tearing people’s lives apart willingly. Wake up.
Update May 25th, 2020
Bribes, bribes, bribes…
It comes as no surprise that in these past few months, even more dirt about these criminals has come to the light. As if everything exposed above hadn’t been enough, brace yourselves, because there is more. It has been recently revealed that by bribing and flashing over 200.000 to a board member and an investor of Apply, Chris Bouwer got them to play a double game, allowing him to carry out the theft, while keeping quiet about illegal actions taking place against the same company they represented.
First there is board member Alec Behrens. Back on the 3rd of June 2019, Toby Oliver, who was now a full-time employee at App Foundry S.L, contacted Oscar Lagercrantz, the one of the key team member of Apply who they hadn’t been able to secure for their criminal plan. In his message he confirmed that he had been in contact with Alec Behrens recently. Founder Thomas Martensson went to the board to inquire about the communication between any Apply members and the criminal team at App Foundry. Board member Alec Behrens directly denied having contacted them, with a simple email stating “not me” . However, Toby Oliver himself had already confirmed that he had been in direct communication with him, corroborating Behrens’ was clearly lying to all board members. Why?
Then there is investor Gerald Heydenreich. When all of this exploded back in April 2019, he had shown himself very supportive of the founder and clearly expressed he agreed with him on the matter. He had sent Thomas Martensson a WhatsApp message informing him about Chris Bouwer’s plan to steal the software and team to set up a new company without Martnesson in it. He also stated he would have been okay with giving the founder shares and moving on, but said Bouwer would not agree with that . After having shown all this support, out of the blue Gerald Heydenreich went on complete radio silence on matter and didn’t pronounce himself on it ever again. There was no apparent logical explanation for this abrupt change in his behaviour…
WhatsApp message from Gerald Heydenreich to Thomas Martensson discussing Bouwer’s plan and expressing his support to Apply
The big question is, why would one of them leak information to the criminals acting against the same company he represented and why would the other go completely silent about such an important matter he originally supported so strongly? Recently, it all made sense with the new information that came to light. Turns out that Chris Bouwer made two very interesting investments in 2019. His first one went to a company called Zoofy (zoofy.nl), owned by the one and only Alec Behrens, while the the second one went to ModelManagement.com, owned by… Gerald Heydenreich. Suddenly, it all the pieces fitted together and the strange behaviour of these two board members made sense… Chris Bouwer flashed some cash investments for their ventures in exchange of betraying Thomas and the same company that they represented, and they shamelessly took it.
By now, this story has taken “unbelievable” and “incredible” to completely new levels no one could have ever thought possible before. But still, all of these people have kept going at it and App Foundry / Codeless Labs / Bravo Studio / Bravo Vision (nobody knows what to call them anymore), are still fully operational and profiting from their highly unethical, immoral, illegal actions. According to how things look at the moment, it seems that the have either: gone in way too deep, lost touch with reality and don’t realise that what they have done is beyond wrong; or maybe they do know they are incredibly wrong but they are sticking with it because they know there is no way back from what they have done. Their boat is about to sink and we are all wondering if they will be as smart enough to jump off it before it’s too late.
Chris Bouwer’s false accusations and true intentions
- Chris Bouwer was a very skilled investor who was well aware of the potential of Apply from the beginning. He invested multiple times and he took an operational role within the company. Bouwer was highly involved in Apply’s affairs and even offered himself to take the lead on the company’s investment. This completely contradicts all his false claims of Thomas being the one “luring in investors” to be able to finance his luxurious lifestyle. In reality, it was Bouwer who was actively setting up meetings and inviting other investors to participate in Apply. In further attempts to reinforce his false accusations, Bouwer also claimed Thomas had contacted him first to lure him in. This is false, as it was Bouwer who did started communication between them after the founder’s previous venture had been awarded a very prestigious prize and a mutual contact connected the two of them.
- Chris Bouwer had a very active role in the hiring of COO Frode Nordseth. He introduced Thomas to him and urged him to hire him. The founder was reluctant about it because he requested a salary of 300.000 plus benefits, which could be a great financial burden on the company. Still, he took Bouwer’s word for it and brought him into the company. Reality is that, by managing to incorporate his friend as COO, Bouwer gained access to Apply’s full insights and was aware of every single thing that happened at the company. It is no coincidence that Bouwer personally handled a very big investment in February 2019 with outstanding interest, just as Apply had increased its value by 200% in comparison to when he first invested in June 2019. The only way he could have known that is by having access to all the data of the company, confirming Frode was passing it on to him. At this point, seeing this great potential and not having been able to get Thomas out of the way, he set in motion his plan to steal everything from the company and set up a new venture where he could be the sole owner.
- Bouwer claimed that Thomas had been misusing funds and making payments to himself to finance his personal “luxurious lifestyle”. However, this is false given that, apart from the official audit report clearing Thomas from all these accusations, the founder NEVER carried out any payments from the company accounts by himself. During this time, all payments were handled and by COO Frode Nordseth. Between him and Aurika Torgersen, as head of administration, they had complete control over the accounts of Apply Support and Apply DS, so if there had been any wrongdoings or misuse of funds, not only were they aware of them, but also fully responsible of said account movements. Knowing Bouwer’s connection to them, he would have also been aware of it. Yet, they never said a word about any misuse and, on the contrary, Frode even sent emails to Thomas supporting him and his work at Apply
- One of Bouwer’s latest claims is that the announcement Apply made on February 17th, 2020 about moving to a new office space in Barcelona Tech City’s Pier01 is false and that the company does not appear on their database. Once again, another untruthful statement from him, given that Apply has indeed been a member of Barcelona Tech City since late January 2020 and continues to be one to date.
Update July 7th, 2020
The masterminds behind the theft against Apply now stand in criminal court
After 3 years of a major police investigation in the Apply case, the leaders of what many call Spain’s most brutal theft against a tech company, finally faced criminal court on February 25th and March 25th 2022. As the tables keep turning, the same people who once worked with Chris Bouwer have now pointed him out, along with Aurika Torgersen, Toby Oliver and Frode Nordseth, as the masterminds behind this crime. Here are all the updates on the case so far.
The leaders’ appearance in criminal court, alongside the other members of the team who participated in this theft, left a lot to talk about. Firstly, not much to our surprise, they all refused to answer any questions from the plaintiff lawyers during the trial. The documents and testimonies handed to courts show a clear picture of what really happened before and after the theft in April 2019 against Apply DS. So if they had nothing to hide and they were in the right, why refuse to be asked about the undeniable proof that was submitted to court and answer any questions related to their actions?
Secondly, the few sentences each of them put out in court through their own lawyer’s questions, were just another exhibition of their extensive list of perfectly curated lies. If any of their claims were actually true, then why have several members of the team proceeded to eliminate any trace of having worked at Apply DS from their LinkedIn and CVs? Is this an attempt to try to escape from the truth that always comes to light? However, now that they’ve made such statements under oath in court, they have just pushed themselves even deeper into this hole they have dug themselves into.
Quatrecasas, Roca Junyent and AxiaFunder join the Apply case
The importance of this case keep on growing not only are two top ranked Spanish law firms, Quatrecasas and Roca Junyent, currently leading the case against Chris Bouwer and the other defendants, but AxiaFunder, one of the UK’s leading litigation funds, has also decided to back Apply and Martensson, with over 100 top investors who specifically invested in the case against Chris Bouwer after studying the facts and reviewing the legal opinion.
Furthermore, KROLL, a world-known corporate investigation and risk consulting firm, delivered a report on the real damages done to Apply, along with the stolen assets, which in total has amounted to a minimum value of 21M. All of this goes to show that the team behind App Foundry aka Bravo Studio, in fact carried out one of the biggest thefts against a tech company in Spain and the world is watching closely.
Chris Bouwer and Aurika Torgersen exposed as theft leaders by first-hand testimony
At the court hearing that took place on February 25th 2022, Silvia Martortell, a former employee at both Apply and Bouwer’s App Foundry SL, gave testimony that was key to confirming the leader’s manipulation and wrongdoing. When asked about why they had taken the computers from the office, in her own words she stated: “Because we were told at a meeting that we could take the computers, that it had been consulted and that it was legal … (lawyer: who told you this?)… Chris Bouwer and Aurika”. Later the same employees were instructed by Toby Oliver and Aurika Torgersen to return them (of course after they had been wiped clean of all IP by the App Foundry SL aka Bravo Studio team). This confirms and perfectly illustrates one example of the many times the leade’s of this plan manipulated facts to their convenience so that they could carry out this theft.
We were told at a meeting that we could take the computers, that it had been consulted and that it was legal … (lawyer: who told you this?)… Chris Bouwer and AurikaSilvia Martorell (giving testimony under oath in Barcelona Court 15 on the 25th February 2022)
Debunking the two main key false claims brought up in court
One of App Foundry SL’s (Bravo Studio) main claims made by CEO and administrator Toby Edward Oliver, and Software engineer Dario Mancuso of Bravo Studios stated to the courts that Bravo Studio did not use and does not use the software owned by Apply at Bravo Studio. Both Olivier and Mancuso claim that they themselves created the software and its code, which Bravo Studio uses today to create mobile applications for their clients. Toby Edward Oliver claims that he got the idea for Bravo Studio whilst working for the Spanish company Typeform. Despite App Foundry’s platfrom’s obvious similarity with Apply’s, he completely forgot to mention that he also worked at Apply, which was the company that developed the actual no-code solution, and even covered all of his tracks by deleting any trace of it on his CV and LinkedIn. Once again, Toby Edward Oliver has been caught out as a world-known consulting firm stepped in to debunk during the investigation.
FTI Consulting, one of the world’s leading forensic firms known for the exposure of Bernie Modoff’s fraud ponzi scheme, was hired to carry out the technical due diligence to establish whether the code being used by App Foundry SL is, as they claim, different from the one Apply DS created. FTI’s consulting report, delivered in June 2022, concludes that beyond any doubt, that Apply’s code was and is still today used unlawfully by App Foundry ( Bravo Studio). The first use of the code dates back to late April 2019 when it was used for a project created for the client FIRA de Barcelona, who has given written testimony against App Foundry SL and Pedro Codina. The best part of the report, however, is that according to technical due diligence done by FTI, more than 3 years after the theft, in June 2022, App Foundry is still using Apply’s code to carry out their current business activities.
The second claim comes with a big dose of double morale from the whole team, but especially from Head of Administration Aurika Torgersen. There was a lot of noise made about employees not getting their salaries paid due to Martensson making wrongful use of company funds, which was confirmed to be false in the audit report carried out by the well-known audit firm Russell Bedford. As seen in the conversations below, it is very clear that salaries were paid out and that Martensson always made payroll a priority, to the extent where he injected money from his own pocket into Apply so that the employees could be paid. On this same note, let’s remember how Aurika Torgersen asked him for help so that she could get the mortgage for her new apartment and that he agreed to help her out without thinking twice. Yet, they all gave into greed and turned so quickly on him. The double morale…
A theft planned from the beginning
As the investigation advances, evidence, documents and now also testimonies show that Chris Bouwer had been planning this theft all along and everything keeps pointing that way. Just 4 weeks after his first investment in Apply June 2018, he purchased an office space on Carrer de Pamplona, 90, 08018 Barcelona, that was fully equipped and waited around unoccupied until the 5th of April 2019. On that day, this space would become the new headquarters of App Foundry aka Bravo studio and still today are, where all of the stolen assets of Apply were moved to and their new business started operating from.
To better illustrate the above mentioned and do a quick recap of the day of the theft, here is a quick timeline of the events that took place on the 5th of April 2019:
CCTV recordings place Toby Oliver, Aurika Torgersen and the rest of the team carrying out all of the contents of Apply’s office, including every single computer and even the sofas. The team continues coming back and forth to empty out the office until around 12:30pm.
Aurika Torgersen cuts Apply corporate credit card in two parts to make it unusable and calls Apply’s bank to block the account from carrying out any transactions
Toby Oliver asks Martensson, who is traveling, for access to the company’s bank account to make a payment. Martensson provides him with the bank codes, believing that Oliver was a righteous employee and was paying ordinary invoices. Instead, Toby Oliver emptied Apply’s Spanish bank account to create an even more complicated scenario for Apply and Martensson after what was about to happen
www.codeleslabs.com website goes live selling exactly the same services as Apply. The team starts contacting Apply’s clients, using the stolen equipment and information obtained from Apply (computers, severs, databases, etc )
- Later that day
Pedro Codina, Marta Serrano have their first meeting with Apply’s clients. They tell them that there have been some changes in Apply, that they are rebranding and will from now on be operating under the name “App Foundry SL”. They assure the clients it is still the same team and same technology, so that there is nothing to worry about.
Bouwer’s plan led him to get access to a business worth 21M without having to pay one single euro. The pure greed and business logic behind it was simple; by February 2019, after TPG top manager invested in Apply, Bouwer owned 5% of the company. Then, after carrying out his perfectly orchestrated theft, in April 2019 he went on to own 100% of the same technology and the same team in a matter of hours, all by getting someone else to do his dirty work and stay out of camera on the day.
What comes next?
Tales of Tech has scrutinised hundreds of pages of evidence including internal documents, reports, emails and the testimonies given in court. When put together, the picture is clear: this is one of the most baffling thefts in the history of tech in Spain, carried out by a group of people fueled by greed, who led by the avarice of investor Chris Bouwer, appropriated valuable assets that did not belong to them. Today, 3 years after the actual theft, the App Foundry/Bravo Studio team still keeps using them to run their new business and profit off their crimes.
While the case in criminal court will keep moving forward and coming closer to serving justice, we have also learned that a civil lawsuit backed by litigation fund AxiaFunder, is being filed against Chris Bouwer, Frode Nordseth, Aurika Torgersen, Toby Oliver and listed dependents. As the truth keeps coming to light and things keep falling into place, it appears like the beginning of the end for App Foundry SL / Bravo Studio and its stakeholders, is just around the corner.
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