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Former MGM Owner Fights to Reclaim It

Courts: Giancarlo Parretti's lawyers say bribery and fraud caused client to lose studio.

August 30, 1996|From Reuters

Italian businessman Giancarlo Parretti, former owner of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, has rejoined the fight to own the venerable Hollywood film studio with new allegations of bribery and fraud.

Citing recent evidence, Parretti's attorneys Thursday asked the Delaware Chancery Court to reopen the 1991 case in which the legally troubled financier lost control of MGM.

"The ultimate purpose of this is to get control of MGM," Parretti's Beverly Hills-based lawyer, Jay Coggan, said in an interview. "That's all the court took away from him and, in theory, that's what the court can give back."

In the 1991 trial in Delaware, where MGM is incorporated, the bank's attorneys alleged that Parretti filed a false document. A mistrial was declared and the French banking conglomerate Credit Lyonnais took control after being the only bidder in a subsequent auction for the studio.

Coggan said that in the past two weeks he has obtained an affidavit from Parretti's partner, Florio Fiorini, in which Fiorini claims Credit Lyonnais bribed him to lie about financial arrangements surrounding Parretti's $1.3-billion acquisition of MGM in 1990.

Coggan also said he has affidavits from independent parties supporting Fiorini's assertion that he lied on the witness stand.

Coggan said the bank also withheld information that it was trying to find other buyers for the studio both before and after Parretti took control.

Officials with Paris-based Credit Lyonnais and Los Angeles-based MGM were not immediately available for comment.

Parretti has legal troubles of his own, including eight counts of fraud, theft and embezzlement leveled by the French government stemming from his days at MGM.

In October, the former mogul was arrested after voluntarily coming to the United States from his home in Rome to face perjury charges in Delaware resulting from the 1991 trial.

After pleading innocent, Parretti flew to Los Angeles to pursue a $3.9-million claim against Credit Lyonnais. He was arrested while giving a deposition in the civil lawsuit at his lawyer's office and held for extradition to France.

In May, a Los Angeles judge ordered him extradited to France. However, Parretti is free and living in Los Angeles while his lawyers appeal the extradition.

After a lengthy bidding process, MGM was sold in July by a Credit Lyonnais affiliate for $1.3 billion. The acquisition team was lead by MGM Chairman Frank Mancuso and backed by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. and Australian media conglomerate Seven Network Ltd..

Kerkorian also owns a controlling stake in the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas.

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