Thursday, February 4, 2010


NYLJ 5/23/07


2. It is always a hoot and pretty much moot when one of the richest men in the world brings a racketeering suit. The first thing any jurist packing a gavel must quip is: takes one to know one, eh?

With a moniker like Duli Yang Termat Mulia Paduka Seri Penigram Muda Haji Jefri Bolkiah how you get called Prince Jefri is probably a story in itself. But when you plead as Cedar Swamp Holdings v. Zamin, 06 Civ. 13626, in the Southern District of New York, there’s a great likelihood that the court officers will probably call you the Duke of Paduka, anyways.

This brother of the sultan of Brunei put his investments in the hands of this husband-&-wife team of English barristers, who probably put down their own prayer carpets to Allah to offer orisons for their good fortune. That their own diversified portfolio extended to buying and selling real estate, while acting as both agents of the purchaser and the sellers themselves, churning paper to up their compensation on deals, hiring wifey’s brother to a management position on one of the properties, as well as brokering below-market lenses, even, meant that they were busy little beavers during the two years of their employment by the Prince. But that does not come in under the heading of “mob related activities”.

“The Court recognizes that the RICO statute was intended to cast a wide net and that even loosely-affiliated individuals with little organizational structure can constitute an enterprise where the group exists solely for carrying out a pattern of racketeering activity. But it is not persuaded that the group constituting the alleged ‘enterprise’ in this case is anything other than a laundry list of individuals and entities connected to the alleged schemes of the defendants.

“Moreover, the Courts have held that allegations of a ‘hub-&-spoke’ structure do not satisfy the enterprise element of the RICO claim. That requires a plaintiff to allege that the defendants operated symbiotically and played necessary roles in the achievement of a common purpose.”

We don’t have any trouble defining a hierarchy in criminal enterprise—at least not since the Sopranos ended up in sanitized syndication—but look at this loose aggregation of isolated and independent individuals is to see an adhoc coalition of entities who just happened to luck out. That Prince Jefri decided to drop all this on the laps of the barristers is the same thing as walking into a dominatrix dungeon and saying: Hurt Me. What chafes is that you let it go on, either co-signing their bullshit or worse—giving them a durable Power of Attorney over unspecified real properties—was the sexual equivalent of adding, Oh, and I don’t need a ‘safe word’.

Yes, almost any One-L student and probably any number of paralegals could have looked at this and given it the same SJ: You may have longball hitters at your firm but that is dependent on you getting one over the plate, so to speak. This wasn’t even in the right ballpark.

So, from the bench view, it would be the Duke of Paduka becomes the palooka, or Mother of Mercy, this IS the end of RICO…in this action. (Which only means that a half-hour after this gets tossed they are filing the same 23 of 24 claims in Civil.)

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