Media Mogul Duped Over Argentine TV Assets, Judge Rules
(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. judge issued a stinging rebuke to a lawyer claiming ownership of several Argentine television companies, finding he deceived Miami media mogul Remigio Ángel González into signing over the rights.
Carlos Eduardo Lorefice Lynch’s “entire case was an attempt to hold Gonzalez to sham documents he knew presented lies,” Delaware Chancery Court Judge Morgan Zurn said Friday. “The court will not be complicit in an illicit scheme, nor will it stand to be a pawn in one.”
Lynch, who previously served as Gonzalez’s Argentina representative, sued to assert his claim to a 65% interest in Delaware-incorporated Grupo Belleville Holdings LLC, which holds several Argentine media companies. The lawyer claimed Gonzalez’s ownership claims were based on fake documents, but the judge said it was the other way around.
The judge ruled Gonzalez was the companies’ rightful owner, finding that the documents on which Lynch based his claim were obtained through fraud. She said Lynch had “proceeded with unclean hands and in bad faith.”
Jeffrey Greilsheimer, a New York-based lawyer for Lynch, didn’t immediately return a call for comment on Zurn’s ruling.
Gonzalez -- born in Mexico, but now based in Miami -- owns and controls Albavision, a Latin American media conglomerate. He’s owned more 45 TV channels, 68 radio stations and 65 movie theaters from Mexico to Argentina over the last 40 years. His Argentine nickname is “el Fantasma”(the Ghost) because his name is difficult to find in documents about the companies he owns.
Zurn found the control battle grew out of 75-year-old Gonzalez’s decision to trust Lynch, initially a junior lawyer assigned to his Argentine acquisitions. Gonzalez put such faith in Lynch that he tapped him as Grupo Belleville’s representative in the country, according to court filings. Because of his association with Gonzalez, Lynch earned the nickname of “el Fantasmita” (Little Ghost) among Argentine media watchers.
The mogul believed Lynch “was loyal and dedicated to doing right by the businessman and his company,” the judge said. “But appearances can be deceiving.”
Lynch convinced Gonzalez that the ownership transfer was necessary to meet Argentine regulatory requirements, but reassured him it would be in name only. The lawyer agreed to acknowledge that fact in writing, the judge found, only to renege.
“Lynch never intended to sign” the acknowledgment that he didn’t really own the 65% stake and “concealed or destroyed the copy Gonzalez signed, leaving only those crumbs in the trail that named him as Belleville’s 65% owner,” Zurn said.
The case is Carlos Eduardo Lorefice Lynch v Remigio Ángel González, 2019-0356, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).
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