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Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen was so sure that the debt of a bankrupt wireless Internet venture was the investment of the century that he staked his daughter’s future on it, without telling her or his wife. It definitely had nothing to do with that bankrupt venture’s owning some electromagnetic spectrum that Dish coveted, and if Ergen had Dish’s treasurer make the trades on his behalf, well, that’s just an unfortunate coincidence.
Plus, you know, he doesn’t even want that spectrum anymore.
Mr. Ergen used hundreds of millions of dollars from his daughter’s trust fund to buy the debt and didn’t first obtain permission from his wife, who controls the trust with him, LightSquared’s lawyers said. They said the money he spent represented most of Mr. Ergen’s personal wealth that isn’t tied up in Dish. Mr. Ergen owns more than half of Dish, which has a market value of $26 billion.
“His wife and his daughter may be mad,” Dish lawyer Robert J. Giuffra Jr. told the court, but Mr. Ergen made the debt purchases for himself and not for the company….
“Charles Ergen has spent a lot of his own money investing in LightSquared,” said Rachel Strickland, a lawyer for Mr. Ergen. “He did nothing wrong….”
Mr. Giuffra, the Dish lawyer, questioned LightSquared Chairman and Chief Executive Doug Smith about whether the company knew who was buying the company’s debt when Mr. Ergen was making his purchases. A key point in the case is whether LightSquared was surprised to learn that Mr. Ergen was making the trades. The trades, made on Mr. Ergen’s behalf by Dish Treasurer Jason Kiser, made Mr. Ergen the largest holder of LightSquared’s bank debt while Dish was making its bid for the company.