A federal bankruptcy judge in Los Angeles is expected to rule today on whether construction magnate Ron Tutor must submit to questioning under oath about his knowledge of the business affairs of embattled film financier David Bergstein.
Ronald Durkin, interim trustee in the involuntary bankruptcies involving five Bergstein companies, wants to determine the extent of Tutor’s knowledge and involvement in those ventures.
Durkin filed a court document indicating that Tutor, reportedly a silent partner, had guaranteed a loan for one of Bergstein’s companies. The agreement, dated Feb. 21, 2008, says that Tutor, as guarantor of a loan to CT1 Holdings — one of the five companies in the bankruptcy litigation — was required to “keep informed of the borrowers’ financial condition, the financial condition of other guarantors, if any, and of all other circumstances which bear upon the risk of nonpayment or nonperformance” of the loan obligations.
Tutor’s lawyers, in a court filing, have distanced him from Bergstein’s companies and call Tutor “merely a lender.” They contend that because his involvement predates the filing of an involuntary bankruptcy against Bergstein’s companies, the interim trustee has no authority to question Tutor under oath.
In a court filing, they also insist there is no evidence Tutor has “any relevant information or involvement with” the five companies. They note that although Tutor was a co-owner of one of the companies, R2D2, his ownership ended in January 2009.
“There is no evidence that Tutor possesses any knowledge or documentation of what happened to the assets of R2D2,” the filing says.
Tutor’s attorneys also contend that the trustee cannot rely upon the loan guarantee cited by Durkin as the basis for an examination.
In addition to deciding whether Tutor must submit to questioning, bankruptcy judge Barry Russell also may decide whether the lawyers for each of the alleged debtors in the five bankruptcies must divulge their compensation.
A team headed by Tutor with Bergstein as an adviser has been negotiating to purchase Disney’s speciality label Miramax Films and its library of 611 films for about $650 million.