The CEO and founder of Momentus Space was forced to resign on January 25th, 2021, when allegations of his access to restricted space technology came into suspicion by the US government. His resignation comes weeks before the company was due to go public through an intricate purchase by a blank-check company.
When reached for a statement, the company’s board of directors described the CEO’s resignation as an attempt to expedite the government’s resolution as to investigating foreign ownership and national security concerns.
The company does not deny foreign ownerships, and Kokorich’s resignation implies Momentus is ready to cooperate with the authorities.
Still, it seems that Momentus isn’t Kokorich’s first attempt at breaching into the US Space Industry. He established Momentus after his struggles with the US government over his satellite company.
The satellite fiasco was supposedly riddled with concerns regarding the access of sensitive and valuable US space and military secrets to foreign investors.
The US government considered the technology too dangerous to let slide into the hands of foreign rivals. Without access to substantial technology and data, Kokorich’s satellite company had nowhere to go but down.
The board of directors at Momentus barred Kokorich from accessing the company’s existing technical information due to an immigration status dispute in 2019. The board did not strip him from his CEO position, only restricted his access to sensitive data that could potentially be stolen and sold to a third party.
Government officials were concerned about a potential information leak towards foreign Russian investors with political ties to Vladimir Putin and Lev Khasis, an executive at Russia’s largest bank.
It seems that Kokorich wasn’t the only one under investigation. There are reports that half a dozen workers at Momentus, ranging from mid-entry to positions of relative power, were investigated.
H2: Foreign Stock Trading
In October 2020, the special-purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) Stable Road Acquisition Corporation announced its plans to purchase Momentus and transform it into a public company with stakes on the NASDAQ.
Obviously, this led to a sharp increase in the company’s stock price resulting in an almost immediate doubling of the price. It’s worth mentioning that the trade is still to take place.
However, some have speculated that this trade is a manipulation of the stock market’s integrity and that the inflation of the stock prices is artificial. Whatever it may be, the stock value went down after Kokorich’s resignation was announced.
Kokorich Mikhail Momentus CEO could not be reached for a statement. A spokesperson for Momentus couldn’t confirm or deny any concerns that the public had, opting only to say that as of this moment, Kokorich still retained ownership of the company.
He also remains the largest stakeholder of the company shares. In a previous statement, Kokorich said that he has been in contact with the US immigration department and is seeking political asylum in the US.
If approved, this would make Kokorich a US citizen and thus give him access to Momentus’ products and more sensitive information. However, the authorities are in no rush to approve Kokorich Mikhail for US citizenship.
Since Kokorich’s removal as CEO of Momentus, chief revenue officer Dawn Harms has been placed as interim CEO. Dawn Harms is well known in the field for her recent involvement at Boeing’s satellite division. Dr. Fred Kennedy, who used to act as a US government space official, will continue to act as the company’s president.
While much mystery and skepticism surround Mr, Kokorich, Momentus security filings credit him with most of the Momentus inventions.
Moreover, a statement from the company claims that Kokorich losing access to technical data would adversely affect the company because it would be harder to compete with other space companies, retain existing customers, and attract new ones.
Whatever the case, with Mr. Kokorich out of the picture, the company might finally be allowed to acquire more sensitive data and continue to operate without constant allegations and investigations. However, this may not be the last bit of scandal on the Momentus matter.