Jackson back in court to sue accountants

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A month after his musical comeback hit a sour note, pop star Michael Jackson has sued his former accountants for breach of duty, claiming they withdrew huge sums of money from his bank accounts but neglected to pay his bills.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last Thursday and obtained on Tuesday by Reuters, says the accounting firm Bernstein, Fox, Whitman, Goldman & Sloan withdrew $2.5 million a year from Jackson's accounts but failed to properly pay the bills for which the money was earmarked.

Representatives for the Los Angeles-based firm were not immediately available for comment.

Jackson, 48, hired the firm in 2003 -- the year before he was indicted on child molestation charges -- to provide accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation and other duties, the lawsuit said.

The suit claims the accountants hired individuals and entered into agreements on Jackson's behalf without permission, then failed to communicate with Jackson or keep him apprised of his financial affairs.

Brought by Jackson and his company MJJ Productions Inc., the suit seeks unspecified damages, as well as accounting records for all of the money the firm received. It accuses the accounting firm of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

Jackson, who reached a deal with creditors earlier this year to refinance more than $200 million in debt and stave off insolvency, has remained largely out of the public eye since he was acquitted of sexual misconduct charges in June 2005.

Dividing much of his time between Ireland and the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain since then, Jackson emerged from seclusion last month to sing at an awards show in London, marking his first post-trial performance.

But critics panned his comeback appearance, in which a faltering Jackson briefly sang the chorus to his charity single "We Are The World" before the sound system abruptly cut out while he struggled to hit the high notes.
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