JetSmarter — touted as the Uber of aviation — has a curious background, with investors such as the Saudi royal family and Jay-Z, and an endorsement from Kim Kardashian.
The founder and CEO, Sergey Petrossov, 30, is the son of Vatchagan Petrossov, who served 15 years in Russian prisons, according to Robert Friedman’s “Red Mafiya,” published by Little, Brown in 2000.
Vatchagan settled in Denver, where he opened a restaurant popular with Russian expats. Vyacheslav Ivankov, a.k.a. Yaponchik, who’s been called the John Gotti of the Russian mob and once had a crew of 100 soldiers in Brighton Beach, “frequently traveled to Denver, where he stayed at Petrossov’s home, even using his address to apply for a Colorado driver’s license,” the book reported. “Ivankov and Vatchagan Petrossov were so close that Petrossov named Ivankov godfather to one of his two sons.”
Sergey says the book overstates his father’s connections. “False rumors about my father’s involvement with organized crime when I was 7 years old are an attempt to maliciously attack my character,” he said in a statement. “My father, an immigrant small business owner who opened the first Russian restaurant in Denver, did not control the patrons that visited his restaurant and was no way affiliated with them beyond serving them like he would any other customer.”
The entrepreneur said his father has never had any involvement or association with JetSmarter.
Other issues have arisen for the 7-year-old company. Its former president, Edward Gennady Barsky, resigned in 2017, a week after being arrested on charges of embezzling $11 million from a California real-estate investment company. Barsky was indicted by a Contra Costa County jury in June 2017 on five counts of grand theft. He pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.
JetSmarter, once said to have a valuation of $1.6 billion, faces a slew of lawsuits from dissatisfied customers. The Post reported last week the embattled company could be sold for as little as $20 million.
“Recent reporting has contained false information about JetSmarter, and the company has clearly been the subject of a targeted and fabricated campaign,” a company spokesman said.
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