MANHATTAN (CN) - The guitarist for rock band Gogol Bordello claims in court that lead singer Eugene Hutz "brazenly absconded with approximately half a million dollars" from the group.
Oren Kaplan, individually and on behalf of Gogol Bordello business entity Gypsy Punks, sued Eugene Nikolaev aka Eugene Hutz, DAS Grand Kapital LLC and Gypsy Acoustic Punks Inc. in New York County Supreme Court, alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment.
Kaplan says in the lawsuit: "Hutz brazenly absconded with approximately half a million dollars from the bank accounts of the Gogol Bordello entities and deposited those funds into the accounts of new companies which are wholly owned by Hutz. (These transfers have been disingenuously characterized by Hutz's representatives as 'loans.') Moreover, Hutz has paid himself a 'salary' to which Hutz is entitled under the group's contractual arrangements. Further, Hutz has transferred all of the business operations of the Gogol Bordello Entities into his new, wholly owned companies without providing the Gogol Bordello entities with any compensation for having done so. Plaintiff had no prior notice of, and has never approved any of these illicit self dealing acts.
"Moreover, Hutz has effectively and unlawfully 'locked' plaintiff out of the group and the Gogol Bordello entities and otherwise deprived plaintiff of the benefits to which he is entitled under the group's agreements. For example, Hutz secretly entered into a promotional deal for the group with Coca-Cola without telling plaintiff about it or allowing plaintiff to participate in the promotion. Hutz accomplished this ruse by feigning concern for plaintiff (whose mother had just passed away) and encouraging plaintiff to take an extended leave of absence from the group, during the very time when the group would be recording its song for the Coca-Cola commercial."
(In a footnote to the first parenthetical statement above, the complaint adds: "Suspiciously, Hutz's representatives have failed to provide plaintiff with any proof establishing that interest has ever been paid on these so-called 'loans.'")
Kaplan adds: "Hutz's true reason for encouraging plaintiff to extend his leave of absence was to ensure that plaintiff would not participate in the Coca-Cola promotion, thereby allowing Hut to keep more of the proceeds from that promotion for himself."
Kaplan claims he discovered Hutz's self-dealing when his accountant audited the group's books in September 2012.
Kaplan seeks $950,000 in damages.
He is represented by Jeffrey Movit from Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.
Gogol Bordello was founded in New York City in 1999 and specialized in Gypsy punk music.