Startup founder indicted in Texas on federal charges of scamming $25M from investors

The founder of a supply-chain management startup has been indicted after he was accused of defrauding investors of at least $25 million, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.

Christopher Kirchner, the 35-year-old founder of Slync, was indicted Thursday on five counts of wire fraud and eight counts of money laundering, according to the release. Federal authorities said Kirchner “swindled investors out of millions of dollars he used to fund a splashy lifestyle.”

He’s set to face those charges in federal court in North Texas.

Kirchner did this while serving as CEO, a position he held from 2017 to 2022, when he was fired by the company’s board of directors following allegations of misconduct leading to the transfer of those $25 million into his personal account, according to the news release.

The indictment accuses Kirchner of converting at least $25 million of investor funds to his own personal use between April 2020 and March 2022. Along the way, federal authorities accuse of him attempting to cover his tracks by scamming more investors and firing employees who questioned him, according to the release.

Authorities say some of the money was transferred from the company’s Silicon Valley Bank account into a Chase Bank company account, to which he was the only person with access, and then into Kirchner’s personal account. Around $20 million was transferred directly from the Silicon Valley account into his personal account. That money was allegedly used to fund a lifestyle federal prosecutors are calling lavish and splashy.

Kirchner bought a private jet with $16 million of those funds and also used company money to get a luxury suite at a “Dallas-area professional sports team” stadium, according to the release.

Slync raised around $7 million in Series A investments and $50 million in Series B investments, according to the news release. All those funds were wired into Slync’s Silicon Valley Bank account supposed to be used for developing products and covering other general company expenses. According to the Justice Department, Slync was “drained of funds” and struggled to make payroll in spring of 2022.

When that happened, Kirchner tried to replace some of the money he’d misappropriated by convincing at least four investors to wire around $850,000 to Slync, calling it a Series C investment round, according to the news release. The company’s board of directors never approved a new round of investments, though.

While waiting for that money, Kirchner tried to excuse the payroll issues by first claiming the company’s cash was invested in assets that were difficult to divest then later told the company’s leaders that the federal government froze the company’s accounts because of transactions he had with sanctioned entities in Russia, according to the release. Both explanations were lies, according to prosecutors.

In June 2022, Kirchner fired two Slync employees who “expressed concern about his management,” the Justice Department wrote in the release. One of the employees reported that Kirchner falsely exaggerated Slync’s financial performance when talking with investors.

The next month, after Kirchner was suspended as CEO by the board of directors, he removed certain IT administrator privileges from key employees thereby preventing them to access Slync’s computer systems and tried to delete approximately 18 gigabytes of company data including emails, according to the news release.

If convicted of all charges, Kirchner faces up to 20 years in prison per count of wire fraud and 10 years per count of money laundering.

The case was investigated by the FBI in Dallas and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua Detzky, Blake Ellison and John de la Garza, according to the news release.