The ongoing crossfire between French-owned Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland and Epic Prods.’ Eduard Sarlui and Moshe Diamant escalated yesterday when CLBN filed a cross-complaint claiming the pair “cooked” Epic’s company books and “looted” the bank-owned entity of more than $ 200 million. That figure includes $ 47.8 million in outstanding loans to the duo’s Trans World Entertainment.
The action marks the latest chapter in ongoing lawsuits that began in August after the bank ousted Sarlui and Diamant from their roles as directors and officers of Epic Prods. The duo sued the bank for$ 100 million-plus for breach of contract and various damages.
This countersuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, charges that documents seized last August prove that Sarlui and Diamant committed fraud and embezzlement by using Epic’s corporate funds for everything from “private school tuition for their children” to down payments on homes in Palm Springs and Beverly Hills, not to mention a host of luxury car payments, family vacations in Tel Aviv and “chiropractic equipment for (Sarlui’s) son-in-law.”
“The bank wants to collect a total of about $ 200 million in damages,” according to a CL spokesman, although no amount is named in the suit, which targets Sarlui and Diamant personally as well as a group of TWE companies, several additional companies owned or controlled by either Sarlui and Diamant family members, ACSA, Televix, Global Communications and other entities.
Sarlui and Diamant’s attorney Brian Lysaght, of O’Neill & Lysaght, said he hadn’t seen CL’s cross complaint yet, “but it’s nothing that’s terribly surprising because we had a stipulation that both sides could amend at any time after Jan. 4, and we had amended and filed our counterclaim some time ago. They’re just getting around to filing now.”
The detailed, 48-page document alleges Sarlui and Diamant “defrauded” the bank “in every conceivable fashion,” including:
o Embezzling company funds to support lavish lifestyles or provide gifts to relatives and friends;
o Diverting millions of dollars of assets to companies owned or controlled by former officers;
o Improperly licensing films on below-market terms to firms owned or controlled by the duo;
o Direct misappropriation of film rights and;
o Acquisition of films from the duo’s affiliates.