(Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Johnny Depp is the latest Hollywood star to claim the people he trusted with his money stole from him, according to a complaint filed Friday in L.A. County Superior Court.
Depp is suing The Management Group, along with two of its attorneys, for negligence, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims. According to the complaint TMG acted as Depp's legal, business, tax and accounting advisors from 1999 to 2016 - during which time they collected $28 million in contingent fees which Depp says he never agreed to.
"Mr. Depp is one of the most sought after and highly paid actors in the world," writes attorney Matthew Kanny in the complaint. "He is also the victim of the gross misconduct of his business managers - The Management Group and attorneys Joel and Robert Mandel - who collected tens of millions of dollars of contingent fees, purportedly based on an oral contract, all at Mr. Depp's expense."
Depp also claims TMG consistently failed to file or pay his taxes on time, costing him $5.6 million in federal penalties and interest, failed to keep proper books and loaned nearly $10 million of his money to third parties without authorization. He also says TMG was self-dealing by investing his money in business ventures in which they had ownership interests.
Depp fired the firm last March, after TMG informed him that he'd need to sell a large piece of property in France to remain financially solvent. He then hired Edward White who engaged in a full review of Depp's finances and discovered the alleged mismanagement.
"In essence, TMG treated Mr. Depp's income as their own, available to either TMG or third parties to draw upon as desired," writes Kanny. "Adding insult to injury, TMG has now sought to foreclose on Mr. Depp's primary residence, even though the alleged loan secured by Mr. Depp's residence was made through TMG's self-dealing and conflicts of interest, and the purported 'default' occurred solely as a result of TMG's own misconduct."
Depp is seeking damages of at least $25 million, disgorgement of TMG's profits from any unlawful conduct, rescission of a promissory note lending $5 million to TMG and an injunction to stop the company from foreclosing on any of his properties.
Michael Kump, attorney for TMG and the Mandels, issued a statement Friday calling the suit a complete fabrication.
"For 30 years, Joel and Rob Mandel, and their company The Management Group, have been trusted business managers to some of the most successful individuals and companies in the entertainment business," says Kump. "For 17 of those years, they did everything possible to protect Depp from his irresponsible and profligate spending. In December 2012, Depp faced financial ruin with the impending default on a $5 million bank loan. The Mandels bailed him out by loaning him $5 million, which he promised to repay by January 2014. Although Depp later changed managers, he never alleged any wrong doing. In October 2016, with Depp still owing $4.2 million, the Mandels started non judicial foreclosure proceedings against certain of Depp's properties. Depp's lawsuit, filed on the eve of the sale of those properties, is a transparent attempt to derail the foreclosure by concocting and spreading malicious lies about the Mandels. His tactics and lawsuit will fail, and he will be forced to pay back the loan as promised."