Who's suing who

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The Independent Online
A Buckinghamshire-based engineering company is suing Lloyds Bank and Ladbrokes for the return of over pounds 5 million which it claims the company's own finance director stole from his employers over an eight year period, by forging signatures on hundreds of cheques.

The writ issued this week by Maindec Computer Engineering of Wooburn Green, Bucks, says that Alan Pateman, a senior accountant with the company, spent large amounts of the money to fund his taste for betting.

The writ claims that Mr Pateman forged 30 cheques to Ladbroke Racing worth pounds 129,000, and over 130 cheques totalling pounds 280,500 to Ladbrokes Limited, in 1994-96 alone.

Mr Pateman was employed as group accountant by Maindec from about 1984 to 23 September 1996. For the last five years with the company Mr Pateman was Finance Director.

Maindec alleges that: "Since about 1988 until his resignation Mr Pateman repeatedly forged the signature of Roger Timms (a Maindec director) on a substantial number of cheques and payment instructions drawn on the said bank accounts of the Plaintiff companies, and without lawful authority abstracted funds in an amount exceeding pounds 5 million."

The writ goes on to say: "Mr Pateman also dishonestly made out cheques from Maindec's bank accounts to persons connected with him, again by repeatedly forging Mr Timms' signature on cheques."

"From at least March 1994 he made out payments in a total amount exceeding pounds 150,000 inter alios to his wife (Bronwyn Pateman), bookmaker (I Morris Ltd) and another bookmaker (R. Bazell) as well as various other parties."

The saga appears to have started in January 1988 when Mr Pateman opened bank accounts with the Jersey Branch of National Westminster Bank in the name of "Michael Pateman trading as Parnell & Kass" and "Michael Pateman trading as Keats Associates."

Maindec says that Mr Pateman had complete control of these accounts, and they were opened with the sole purpose "to steal money from Maindec and Computer Sales Agency (Waverley) Ltd and thereafter to conceal these monies."

The writ continues: "Between January 1988 and January 1997 pounds 5.23 million was paid into the Jersey accounts by Mr Pateman. All of that money represented money stolen either from Maindec or Waverley."

Mr Pateman also withdrew money in cash and from the Maindec dollar account, the writ claims, allegedly over US$45,000 between 1994 -96.

"Mr Pateman concealed his thefts by destroying Maindec accounting records and by means of numerous false accounting entries which he caused to be made in Maindec's books," the writ says.

Maindec is claiming that Lloyds allowed these withdrawals without lawful authority, and that Lloyds and Ladbrokes "have become involved in the aforesaid wrongdoing of Mr Pateman."

Maindec is demanding the return of all funds unlawfully withdrawn by Mr Pateman.

Bernie Ecclestone's racing business Formula One Administration is being sued for around US$200,000 in lost advertising revenue by MTV s.a.l., a French language TV station based in Beirut.

MTV s.a.l., which is owned by Murr Television, has no connection with the better known pop video TV channel, MTV.

MTV s.a.l. claims it signed a contract on 2 March 1998 to broadcast all the Formula One Grand Prix car races of 1998 in the Lebanon in the French language. The Beirut station then started signing contracts with its own sponsors and advertisers.

The day after the contract was signed, Formula One Administration cancelled the contract, saying that it had already granted exclusive broadcasting rights for the races to another company. MTV s.a.l. has lodged a writ in the High Court in London against Mr Ecclestone's company, claiming "damages for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, negligent misstatement and for malicious falsehood." It is understood that MTV s.a.l. is claiming damages equal to its forecast advertising earnings for the 1998 season, which would have been around US$200,000.

Lastly, I must mention Mattel of the US, the maker of the Barbie and Ken dolls, which is suing the British men's magazine FHM over photos of the dolls which the mag ran recently to illustrate an article on sex.

The pictures showed the children's toys engaged in "improper, sexually explicit and offensive positions," according to Mattel.

The company filed a law suit in Los Angeles in order, it said, to protect Barbie from being "associated with anything obscene, vulgar or distasteful".