1:59pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Producer Claims CEO Sexually Manipulated Him to Take Control of the Company
A Norwegian actor-producer is suing a former BBC News anchor for allegedly sexually manipulating him and spreading false rumors to force him out of the production company he founded, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in L.A. County Superior Court.
Ryan Wiik is suing Tasmin Lucia-Khan for defamation, fraud and invasion of privacy.
Wiik says he launched WR Films Entertainment Group in 2009 to develop and produce feature films — specifically, to make a franchise based on a series of classic Western books by Louis Masterson. In 2013, Wiik entered into a talent agreement with his company to star in the first Morgan Kane film and two potential sequels.
The actor met Khan in 2015, and she convinced him he needed her to protect him from damaging press if and when his company went public. Then, Wiik says, Khan seduced him in an effort to manipulate her way into a position of power within WR. He claims she rejected the titles of vp public relations and COO and demanded to be made CEO of the company. After "weeks of sexual and emotional manipulation by Khan," Wiik acquiesced, according to the complaint.
In early 2016, WR became a publicly traded company in Norway in order to raise funds to produce Morgan Kane. Wiik says Khan brought an outside investor onto the company's board and then began holding secret meetings with the ultimate goal of taking control of the company.
"On information and belief, Khan also held secret meetings in Norway with other investors to negotiate additional advantageous deal points for herself as CEO," writes attorney Neville Johnson in the complaint. "These new deal points, benefiting Khan, were secretly negotiated between Khan and the investors, and were later presented to the WR board of directors as a condition which WR had to accept in order to receive funding from the investors."
Then, Wiik claims, Khan turned her attention toward destroying his reputation and credibility. He says she falsely told shareholders and board members that he offered investors sexual favors from prostitutes in order to secure funding. Because of the rumors, Wiik says, a board member demanded he "burn his acting contract" for Morgan Kane.
"However, while working hard to destroy Wiik's position in the company, outside of work, Khan continued to seduce Wiik, insisted that they continue their sexual affair, and filmed their sexual activities on her and his phone," writes Johnson in the complaint.
While continuing their personal relationship, Wiik says Khan ordered her lackeys to break into his storage unit to remove personal property and financial documents — which she then presented to the board to accuse him of insider trading. Then in December, amid bad press and investor outrage, Wiik says Khan demanded he sign a resignation letter.
"Devastated, entirely out of energy, and at one of the lowest points in his life, Wiik agreed to sign the resignation letter, on condition that his service agreements on the Morgan Kane movie and all other shareholder and intellectual property rights would remain intact," writes Johnson. "Because of Khan's deceptive acts, greed, and secret plan to take full control of WR, Wiik was forced, under significant duress, to hand over his rights in a company he started from the ground up, without any consideration."
Wiik is seeking exemplary and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.
Khan tells The Hollywood Reporter the claims are baseless and the complaint reads like a Hollywood movie script.
"I've never manipulated anyone or seduced anyone to get a job," she says. "I take great offense, being a strong female who has worked very hard. We're in 2017. Women can get jobs by working really hard and being damn good at their jobs."
She adds that Wiik resigned voluntarily over creative differences, so reading the lawsuit was shocking. "It's quite upsetting to read this and I will be taking action," she said. "I'm not going to allow these salacious claims to be floating around."
March 15, 3:35 p.m. Updated with comments from Lucia-Khan.