Home News Lawsuit accuses Everton bidder 777 Partners of $600 million fraud

Lawsuit accuses Everton bidder 777 Partners of $600 million fraud

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American investment company 777 Partners Bid to acquire Premier League team Everton The company, which has been on hold for months amid doubts about its financial health, was accused Friday by one of its lenders of running a years-long fraud scheme worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Leadenhall Capital Partners, a London-based asset manager, made the allegation in a lawsuit filed in New York federal court on Friday. The company said it had provided more than $600 million in financing to 777 Partners, only to discover that about $350 million in assets that served as collateral for the loan were either not under 777’s control or had been pledged to other lenders.

The lawsuit is the latest and most serious claim against 777 Partners, which for years has made bold assertions about its financial health – previously claiming to have $10 billion in assets – despite a series of accusations against it litigation, business failure and unpaid bills.

The lawsuit could have an immediate impact on 777’s impasse over its takeover of Everton: The Premier League has yet to approve the sale, and the financially strapped club recently said Find alternative investors.

But given the company’s balance sheet problems there is also a risk of spillover into the wider world football market 777’s portfolio includes ownership stakes It owes a debt to teams in Australia, Brazil, Belgium, France and Germany, all of them.

Leadenhall’s lawsuit names multiple 777 companies as defendants, as well as the company’s two owners, Steven Pasko and Josh Wander, and their largest financial backer, Kenneth King and his company, A-CAP.

Leadenhall Capital Partners had no further comment on the court filing on Saturday. A-CAP chief legal officer Jill Vinjamuri Gettman did not respond to an email seeking comment.

777 Partners did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit or its allegations, and in recent months it has declined to respond to questions about its ability to complete the Everton deal “out of respect for the process.”

But in an open letter to Everton fans published on the team’s website last year, Mr Wander said Acknowledge the question has been asked about his company’s financial health. “Rest assured,” he wrote at the time, “fact is far more boring than fiction in this case.”

In addition to the main allegation that 777 Partners persuaded Leadenhall to loan it $350 million by misrepresenting its assets, the complaint also includes details of behind-the-scenes discussions and investigations conducted to resolve the issue.

Leadenhall said in the filing that it began questioning its relationship with 777 after receiving an anonymous tip in 2022 alleging that Mr. Wander had pledged assets he did not own or had pledged elsewhere to obtain new loans.

Leadenhall said the company’s executives confronted Mr. Wander after investigating the report and concluding that the allegations were true. Leadenhall said in several recorded calls in March and April 2023 that Wander admitted the assets were double mortgaged, which he called an “embarrassing mistake” and promised to fix the problem.

Leadenhall said further investigation revealed that all 777 assets had been pledged to A-CAP, an independent investment company run by Mr. King. In unusually blunt language, Leadenhall accused the 777 owners, Messrs. Wander and Pascoe, and A-CAP of “running a gigantic scam at best, and an outright scam at worst.” ‘s scam.”

Since 777 announced its takeover of Everton last autumn, both his business and himself have come under heightened scrutiny. In the months since, Mr. Wonder has repeatedly sought to reassure the team’s fans that 777 Partners remains committed to its proposed acquisition. But executives and fans of other football clubs controlled by 777 Partners may be uneasy about the latest allegations and the consequences the teams may face.

Last fall, for example, executives at Brazilian club Vasco da Gama complained that a $25 million loan 777 Partners provided to Everton was similar to the amount still owed to Vasco at the time. The money eventually arrived, but 777 Partners attributed the delay to a U.S. public holiday.

Elsewhere, concerns are likely to continue to grow. Fans of Red Star Paris, another club with 777, attended a match in France on Saturday. issuing counterfeit banknotes It had a picture of Mr Wander and the words “We don’t trust Josh”.

The flip side of the note said the protest “reflects on Red Star’s current owners: apparent wealth actually masks a lack of real economic stability, and impending disaster.”

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