Founded by Dinh in 2009, TSM is one of the most valuable esports organizations in the world, with estimated annual revenues of $45 million in 2020. The Los Angeles-based company brought in law firms Gutierrez Marca and Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett to investigate the allegations. against Dinh and Zhang, respectively.
Claims that Dinh, 30, better known by his play name “Reginald,” was an abusive boss who turned TSM’s workplace into a toxic environment first surfaced in November 2021, when the Former TSM esports pro Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng called out Dinh on a livestream, describing him as a “bully who gets away with being a bad person because he’s powerful.”
The Gutierrez Marca investigation, led by investigator Lynne Davis, contacted 39 witnesses and interviewed 31 current and past employees of TSM’s parent company, Swift Media. According to the law firm, its investigation “revealed that there was no illegal behavior on the part of Mr. Dinh”, none of the interviewees having witnessed or being aware of any “behaviour or derogatory comments” targeting anyone’s gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or sexual orientation. other “protected feature[s].”
He added that “of particular note given the male-dominated esports industry, not all women interviewed felt marginalized and/or that gender precluded advancement within Swift” . Additionally, there was “no observed conduct in the workplace that was sexual in nature or harassing. In short, there was no sexual harassment or discrimination based on sex.
The law firm’s report, however, revealed that Dinh “provided feedback to employees, including players, in an aggressive and tough tone.” Three witnesses said they saw Dinh call employees names such as “stupid”, “trash” or “worthless”, while six current and former employees described him as a “bully” who had created “a culture of the fear”. The other 25 people interviewed said they did not think their workplace at TSM was toxic.
The investigation into Gutierrez Marca is separate from another investigation into Dinh’s conduct by Los Angeles-based video game developer Riot Games, which hosts a prestigious annual “League of Legends” tournament that TSM participates in.
Dinh commented on the investigation into his conduct in a lengthy Reddit post on Friday. “While going through this process, I realized I needed to improve the way I communicate with team members,” he wrote.
Dinh said he would begin a “comprehensive three-month top-to-bottom evaluation of [TSM’s] corporate culture,” adding that he accepted the law firm’s recommendation to attend executive coaching sessions and create an “anonymous reporting hotline” for employee complaints. incidents.
Simpson Thatcher’s investigation of Zhang, meanwhile, confirmed the allegations that led TSM to end former ‘League of Legends’ coach in March. Zhang then returned to his native China later that month, meaning the law firm was unable to reach him for an interview.
The relationship between Zhang and his TSM esports players was the focus of the investigation. Simpson Thatcher determined that Zhang misappropriated a total of approximately $250,000 in salary payments intended for two TSM esports players to himself and an associate. Zhang also defrauded a TSM player, who was leaving the United States to return to Asia, out of $45,000 by selling the player’s car on his behalf for $80,000, but returning less than half that amount to the player.
Additionally, Zhang repeatedly asked players for “loans” ranging from $1,500 to $22,000, under the guise of having to pay for his grandmother’s medical treatment in China. Zhang ended up borrowing a total of $15,000 from two players, paying them back $10,500 of that amount. But he has yet to return the remaining $4,500, and TSM said on March 18 he intervened to prevent up to $54,000 in additional funds from being transferred to Zhang.
“We believe that Mr. Zhang engaged in unethical and potentially illegal conduct and TSM, in immediately firing Mr. Zhang after learning of his misconduct, acted in a timely manner to protect the team, its players and staff members,” Simpson Thatcher investigators wrote. in their report.
In a statement on Friday, TSM said it had forwarded details of the Zhang investigation to the FBI and added that it is “working with each affected player to ensure that all are financially sound.”
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