Ex-Tron CTO Denies Justin Sun’s Accusations of Embezzlement, Bribery

Wolfie Zhao
May 13, 2019 at 13:18 UTC
Updated May 13, 2019 at 16:34 UTC
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The former CTO of Tron, who left the project to launch a competing blockchain, has denied accusations of embezzlement, bribery and infringement that were levied by Tron founder Justin Sun.

The dispute between the two emerged after Zhiqiang Chen announced in a May 10 Medium post that since his departure from Tron in January 2019, he has been building “a new TRON” called Volume Network.

Chen, who joined Tron in late 2017 as its technology chief shortly after following an initial coin offering, said he feels “very sad” that Tron is, in his view, no longer decentralized. He said the delegated proof-of-stake mechanism Tron uses is “pseudo-decentralized,” adding:

“The top 27 SR nodes (block nodes) have more than 170 million TRX votes, and most of them are controlled by TRON.”

“The technology platform of TRON was built by me,” he added. “I certainly know that the real Internet applications cannot function in TRON network at all currently. The TRON ecosystem is still far from commercial applications.”

According to the white paper of Chen’s Volume Network, major team members of the project also come from Tron, including Xiaodong Xie, a former Tron blockchain developer, as well as Jinchao Zhu, a former dapp product manager at Tron.

Sun’s accusations

At the heart of Sun’s accusations is the contention that Chen and others violated the law as well as company rules, asserting that the group had been fired in January 2019 following “verification done by TRON’s discipline department.”

Chen’s post appears to have drawn backlash from Tron’s Justin Sun, who said via his Weibo account on May 11 that Chen, Zhu and Xie were fired in January with a series of allegations against them.

As Sun said on Weibo:

“According to verification done by TRON’s discipline department, Z. Chen, J. Zhu, X. Xie had seriously violated laws and company rules with alleged corporate property embezzlement, bribery, non-compete violation, infringement of corporate trade secrets and intellectual properties, and had been fired in January 2019. TRON has submitted relevant materials to the justice department. Chen joined Tron in October 2017. Before he was fired in January 2019, he was an ordinary employee on the technical side and was not a co-founder.”

However, Sun himself did refer to Chen as the CTO of Tron in a June 2018 Twitter post.

Sun did not specify what material or evidence Tron has obtained and submitted or to which “justice department” he was referring.

Chen pushes back

On Sunday, May 12, Volume Network published a second blog post in response to Sun’s accusations. Further, Chen said he would consider either a civil or criminal lawsuit against Sun for libel and defamation if he continues to make such accusations.

When reached for comment by CoinDesk, Chen said he denies all of Sun’s allegations.

“If I am really a suspected criminal, it is too late to ‘run away,’ [and] I should not create a new blockchain project … and find technical talents to join my team, shouldn’t I?” he said in the blog post, stating:

“I hereby make a solemn statement: Justin takes personal attacks and slanders to me again, I will return with legal actions.”

To deny Sun’s characterization of him as just an “ordinary tech guy,” Chen also linked to a Tron GitHub repository from April 2018 with his name listed as the company’s CTO.

“To be frank, I surprised that I turned into ‘the employee of the technology department’ overnight,” he further stated. “As Justin’s point of view who has immigrated to the United States, technicity is just the most insignificant and ordinary ‘workers’, which are tools to make money for him. I can be treated as a foolish person, but the entire TMT industry technical personnel’s IQ cannot be insulted.”

Zhiqiang Chen image courtesy of Chen