Emails could cost Zuckerberg half of Facebook

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg may have come out on top in a legal spat over business dealings with the Winklevoss twins but a claim from a former associate claiming to own half of the social networking site is gaining credibility.

New Yorker Paul Ceglia caused a few wry grins when he first sued Zuckerberg for half of Facebook, claiming he had a signed agreement with the bum-fluff billionaire dating back to 2003.

But emails from back then that Ceglia has now produced in evidence have caused those grins to straighten out.

Ceglia is now represented by a heavyweight law firm and has dug up email evidence to support his claim to a 50 per cent share of Facebook.

The emails are reproduced on Business Insider here along with a detailed analysis of their contents.

In short, Ceglia seems to have supported Zuckerberg with an initial investment for a project called the Face Book and carried out work on the site that Zuckerberg would pay for in shares in the project.

According to a contract Ceglia has produced, the web designer would be entitled to a "1% per day" stake in the project for each day the launch of the site was delayed.

At the time of the email correspondence it appears that the site's launch had been delayed so long Ceglia had earned himself an 80 percent stake in the site.

Zuckerberg writes to Ceglia complaining that this wasn't fair because he himself had done most of the work had done. He also claims the delay had come about because Zuckerberg had been working on another of Ceglia's project.

According to the emails Zuckerberg then tries to whittle the deal down to a 50/50 share.

In a reaction to Bloomberg, a lawyer for Facebook said: “This is a fraudulent lawsuit brought by a convicted felon, and we look forward to defending it in court.”

Ceglia was apparently convicted in 1997 guilty for possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms in Texas .