The scandal surrounding the bankruptcy of insolvent commodity trader Refco took a new twist yesterday when a creditor’s trustee sued Thomas H Lee, the private equity house that itself filed a claim against Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw (MBRM) two weeks ago.
Advised by Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, trustee Marc Kirschner filed a multimillion-dollar claim in a New York court yesterday (8 August) against Lee, alleging that ” Thomas H Lee defendants have hidden from public view their extensive knowledge of the serious problems at Refco” prior to the company’s IPO. Lee was Refco’s biggest shareholder.
Refco investors lost more than $1bn (£490m) when the company went bust in 2005. In 2004 Lee bought a majority stake in Refco, which was at the time one of the world’s largest commodities and derivatives traders. The following year an internal Refco investigation uncovered a bogus loan scheme that hid customer losses.
MBRM faced a claim from Lee last month (www.thelawyer.com, 27 July) alleging a cover-up. Although MBRM denies the allegations, it had girded itself against a potential suit ever since a bankruptcy examiner’s report in early July found that the firm had advised on 17 loan schemes that concealed the extent of Refco’s debt.
In that action MBRM is being advised by Williams & Connolly, while Lee has turned to Weil Gotshal & Manges.
For Kirschner restructuring partner Luc Despins and litigation partner Scott Edelman are leading the team at Milbank. Both are longstanding counsel for Refco creditors.