8:57pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
Hollywood Docket: Former NBA Player Sues Business Manager For Facilitating Embezzlement
A former NBA player has sued an entertainment business management firm for allegedly allowing a multimillion-dollar theft of his earnings. He wants $40 million.
Gilbert Arenas filed the complaint Friday against Boulevard Management and Lester Knispel, who has handled the finances of clients including Kim Kardashian and Shaquille O'Neal, and Andrew Surkin, who the complaint states is an employee of the firm.
The former Orlando Magic player claims he contracted Boulevard's work from 2006 to 2014 for $2.25 million. He "believed and intended that Knispel would use a system of checks and balances to supervise and monitor an established top tier team of advisors, bookkeepers and managers" to control his earnings, he says.
Surkin became the point person for his accounts, says Arenas. "Knispel was derelict in his duty to properly supervise Surkin," he continues.
The core of the complaint is Arenas' former assistant John White, who in September was convicted of stealing $2.1 million from Arenas. Boulevard should have monitored White's transfers of funds from an account for Arenas' NBA salary to a separate account White could access, says Arenas.
Arenas was the only person who could approve transfers from the accounts, he says. When White transferred millions of dollars from Arenas' earnings account to the personal spending account, Boulevard should have cleared the transfer with Arenas, he says.
And when Boulevard stopped receiving bank statements for the personal spending account and learned the statements were going to White, the firm should have obtained the statements from White but didn't, continues the complaint.
According to Arenas, Surkin said during White's trial he had not obtained Arenas' approval for transfers because "[t]hat wasn't what I was told to do." Boulevard meanwhile hired an attorney, Dennis Roach, to investigate for Arenas, but Roach (who is not a defendant) hid Boulevard’s alleged misconduct because Boulevard hired him and he is a friend of Knispel's, says Arenas.
Outside the theft, Arenas says Boulevard repeatedly paid his bills late and provided him no financial counsel. “As the result of Defendants' failure to provide any meaningful advice, monitoring, or management of Arenas' investment decisions, Arenas' investment strategy was anemic, at best," states the complaint.
Represented by David M. Bass, Arenas claims breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, negligence and constructive fraud.
The Hollywood Reporter has requested comment from Boulevard.
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