August 22, 2015 / 1:01 AM / 4 years ago

Major Ashley Madison investor stays faithful to embattled company

TORONTO, Aug 21 (Reuters) - A major investor in infidelity website’s parent company said the data breach of its systems was a concern for customers but would not affect his backing of the company.

The crisis engulfing Ashley Madison and parent Avid Life Media deepened on Thursday as lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit claiming $750 million in damages from the release by hackers of customers’ emails stolen from the company.

On Friday, the hackers, who call themselves the Impact Team, told a technology website they have a massive trove of data including users’ photos, internal documents and emails they intend to release online.

Previous releases this week have contained millions of email addresses, including U.S. government officials, UK civil servants and high-level executives at European and North America corporations, and emails by the company’s founder Noel Biderman.

“Our business is continuing normally,” said Phillip DeZwirek, who holds a 4.7 percent stake in the private company, according to a list of major shareholders included in Tuesday’s data dump.

His son, Jason DeZwirek, owns 15 percent, and the family’s investment company, Icarus Investment Corp, holds another 10.8 percent, giving the DeZwireks and their related companies a 30.5 percent stake in Avid Life Media.

Jason DeZwirek did not return a phone call seeking comment and efforts to reach Icarus by phone were unsuccessful.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Avid Media, Noel Biderman, has 9.1 percent.

DeZwirek said he was not concerned about a potential material cost associated with either settling or fighting the class-action lawsuit.

“Class-action lawsuits are a part of the American way of life, and they have seeped slowly into Canada, it’s all just one general cesspool of greedy lawyers,” DeZwirek said.

“I happen to be a lawyer but not a greedy one. But that’s part of doing business in America, and apparently Canada.

“As an investor, I’d be more concerned with finding out who did this and having them punished by the criminal system,” he said.

Avid Life Media has employed a security guard to screen visitors to its midtown Toronto office, and employees leaving the office declined to comment when approached by Reuters on Friday. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Josephine Mason and Ken Wills)

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