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Ferrari Figure Defends Assets

April 28, 2006|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

A former Swedish videogame executive charged with stealing a rare Ferrari Enzo, which he crashed in Malibu, and two other exotic cars by taking them out of Britain was in negotiations to pay off British banks that financed their purchase before his recent arrest, court documents claim.

In court filings objecting to prosecutors' efforts to freeze Bo Stefan Eriksson's assets because of their potential criminal source, his attorneys said that insurance would have paid for the Ferrari wrecked in a February accident, and that negotiations were underway for the sale of his British mansion to fund the outstanding debts on two other cars.

Attorneys David Elden and Paul Takakjian contend that Eriksson, 44, put down a $1-million deposit on two Ferrari Enzos and a McLaren Mercedes-Benz and financed the remaining two-thirds of the cost. In November, a few months after bringing the cars to the United States, he stopped repaying the loans; in February, the banks demanded return of the vehicles.

That month, he crashed the red Enzo and his car collection became the center of international intrigue.

Since then, Eriksson has allegedly agreed to sell his home in a London suburb to pay for one of the Ferraris. But that plan was rejected by the Lombard North Central PLC bank in Britain, which claims to be owed $1,155,000. Eriksson owes $566,000 on the totaled red Ferrari and an unspecified amount on the Mercedes.

Eriksson has fought to keep the vehicles because the Enzos were two of only 400 in the world, and the super-powered Mercedes has increased in value by at least $1 million since he took out the loan to buy it.

Prosecutors began a preliminary hearing for Eriksson this week on whether he should stand trial -- on charges of embezzlement, grand theft, illegal gun possession and driving while intoxicated -- by having a sheriff's deputy testify that tests showed Eriksson's blood alcohol was slightly above the legal limit when he crashed the car Feb. 21 on Pacific Coast Highway.

Deputy David Huelsen testified that despite Eriksson's claim that a German named Dietrich had been behind the wheel and ran into the hills, Eriksson had a bloody lip and there was blood on the driver's-side air bag of the Ferrari, which was split in half.

Eriksson, who has been convicted in Sweden of assault, counterfeiting and narcotics violations, also faces a charge here of being a felon in possession of a handgun. That gun belonged to an Orange County reserve deputy. And on Wednesday, a former partner of Eriksson was arrested for pretending to be a police officer while buying a gun.

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