Hello, my name is Franklin, an U.S. immigration and business
attorney, and I'll be happy to assist you today.
Yes, you currently own the shares. Oral contracts are just as good as written contracts, especially in your particular circumstances here, where your boss confirms ownership of your shares via email.
Allocation simply means that 5% was allocated to be transferred to you, but has not yet been transferred. It seems to me that your old boss made a gift of the shares to you, then regretted it when you left the company. Now, he's trying to backpedal with fancy language. However, you are still the rightful owner of those shares, and can enforce your interest in a court of law, especially given your boss's email confirmation.
However, that being said, "ownership" in this example doesn't seem like it means much. I'm guessing that this is a small or privately held company, such larger companies would make sure to execute the proper paperwork in transferring shares. Since this is a small company, there is very likely not a large market for your shares, if there is a market at all. In other words, you are not likely to find anyone willing to buy them from you for a fair price besides the current people at your company.
Settling with your company for a fair price for your shares may be your the best option at this time if you'd like some immediate monies. If you'd like to hold on to your shares, and see where it leads in the future, you're certainly free to do so as well, but you may not be able to sell them in the future, especially if your old company begins to do poorly. This is a personal choice that's up to you.
In the meantime, you should continue to stand firm to your old boss, and reconfirm ownership of those shares. If necessary, consult with a local attorney as well regarding this issue, as most attorneys will offer free consultations. If you can find one that's willing to draft a letter on your behalf to the company, that would be very beneficial to you as well.
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