Kaizad Hansotia has resigned as the chairman of Gurkha Cigar Group, Inc.
His resignation comes after a tumultuous week in regards to statements made on his personal social media accounts that mocked the Black Lives Matter movement, the murder of George Floyd and other topics related to race and society.
Following the revelation and responses to those posts, he said that his account has been hacked. Two days ago, Gurkha put out a statement from Hansotia reiterating that he believed his account had been hacked but also apologizing for past comments that were made on his social media account.
It’s unclear whether Hansotia is giving up any of his ownership in the company. A spokesperson for the company has not immediately returned a request for comment.
(1/10) Statement from Kaizad Hansotia —
Last week there were very insensitive and disrespectful posts made on my Facebook account. Unfortunately I WAS hacked though it didn’t come to my attention for a couple of days, and I have since deleted ALL my social media as a precaution. pic.twitter.com/WAJB52wFcJ
— Gurkha Cigars (@gurkhacigars) June 8, 2020
The company said that Jim Colucci, currently coo and president, will assume the role of ceo. It’s unclear whether there will be a new chairman.
Furthermore, the company is removing the K. Hansotia branding from its products once existing supplies run out.
“We are outraged and saddened at the content of previous posts made on Mr. Hansotia’s personal social media accounts,” said the company in a press release. “These in no way reflect the position or beliefs of the company, its founding mission or its employees. We stand in solidarity against racism and for racial justice. We cannot and will not tolerate words or acts of hate, injustice or oppression. We understand that because of the actions of our founder, we must work to regain the trust of our customers and cigar community. We look forward to working toward this goal together.”
Hansotia bought the Gurkha brand—which claims it started in 1887—in 1989. It has become one of the more unique brands in the cigar industry, known for its extensive product catalog, ornate packaging, and flamboyant marketing. For many years, Gurkha was largely known as a brand that was sold through large catalog retailers, but in the last decade, its brick-and-mortar business has grown substantially thanks to cigars like Cellar Reserve and others.
The company has announced that it will be holding an online town hall meeting on Wednesday, June 10 at 8 p.m EDT to discuss these recent events.