Philip Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners is again suing Dish Network Corp. DISH +0.78% and Chairman Charlie Ergen, this time under the federal racketeering statute. Harbinger is suing both Mr. Ergen and Dish for at least $1.5 billion, saying Mr. Ergen violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act when he acquired the debt of LightSquared—the wireless venture controlled by Harbinger—as Dish was making a bid for the company. Harbinger says Mr. Ergen’s purchases caused it to lose money and control of the LightSquared board. Mr. Falcone and other Harbinger officials resigned from the board as part of negotiations for a bankruptcy court restructuring. “Ergen and his fellow RICO Enterprise members pursued their abusive scheme through wire, mail and bankruptcy fraud, abuse of process, tortious interference with contract, and obstruction of justice,” Harbinger lawyers said in a filing with U.S. District Court in Colorado. Under RICO, originally designed to prosecute organized crime, parties can seek more damages than is typically allowed. [WSJ, related]
A judge may have thrown out her RICO claims, but she’s still got breach of fiduciary duty, and if she has to go through 20 more lawyers to make her case, so help that’s what she’s gonna do. Read more »
Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors are considering charging SAC Capital as “a criminal enterprise, using a powerful legal tool employed against the mafia and drug gangs,” i.e. the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The use of RICO would give the government considerably more time to make a case against SAC, as it means prosecutors could “file charges in connection with crimes committed over the past decade, as long as any act that is part of the alleged enterprise occurred within the past five years,” whereas this July marks the deadline for bringing securities fraud charges involving July 2008 trading in Elan and Wyeth by the fund.
The best part of this story, naturally, involves Charlie Gasparino, first to report the RICO angle yesterday, despite, he says, the denials of a SAC representative, whose legs CG is currently threatening to break, via Twitter. Read more »