Lawyers for billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian filed a motion in US court on Friday to demand that DaimlerChrysler’s chief executive provide additional testimony about the 1998 Daimler-Benz/Chrysler merger that Kerkorian has branded a fraud, according to a Reuters report.
CEO Juergen Schrempp, mastermind of the $US36 billion deal, defended what he has long touted as a “merger of equals” during three tense days of testimony in the trial of Kerkorian’s fraud lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler in US District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, last month, the report noted.
But attorneys for Kerkorian’s Tracinda investment firm submitted their motion for further testimony from the German executive on grounds that critical new evidence had been produced by the defence after Schrempp took the stand, Reuters said.
According to the report, they were referring to documents, mostly hand-written notes by former Chrysler chief financial officer Gary Valade, that forced a sudden suspension of the trial in mid-December when DaimlerChrysler said they had been overlooked and never shown to Kerkorian’s attorneys.
Reuters said Valade was a senior figure in the merger negotiations and Tracinda claims his notes put the testimony of all previous witnesses in the fraud trial, but especially Schrempp’s, in a different light.
“He must reappear for purposes of … addressing the subject matter of statements attributed to him and others, as well as to testify about critically important matters relating thereto,” Tracinda said in its motion, a copy of which was provided to Reuters.
The motion also demands that former Chrysler president Thomas Stallkamp be recalled to testify in the high-profile trial, Reuters added.
“Tracinda has been particularly prejudiced by being prevented from examining these two witnesses without the benefit of the delayed notes,” the motion reportedly says.
Reuters said that federal judge Joseph Farnan, who is hearing the case without a jury, could not be reached for immediate comment after Tracinda filed its request of the court late on Friday but a statement from DaimlerChrysler rejected the motion out of hand, calling it “unjustified, unnecessary and unfair.”
Reuters noted that Kerkorian claims that Schrempp and other Daimler executives pitched the 1998 deal as a merger rather than a takeover to lower the transaction price and avoid paying Chrysler shareholders a “control premium.”
The reclusive casino mogul, who owned nearly 14% of Chrysler’s shares before the Daimler-Chrysler link-up took place, is seeking more than $US1 billion in damages, Reuters added.