UPDATE, 7:15 AM: “The lawsuit and statement simultaneously issued by Al Gore’s celebrity trial lawyer were designed to grab headlines with misleading accusations like ‘fraud’ and ‘price discount,’” Al Jazeera said in a statement over the former Veep’s fraud suit against the Qatari-owned news outlet over its purchase last year of Current TV . “This is an ordinary commercial dispute, of the type that courts decide all the time,” added AJ about the August 15 suit. In a sealed complaint filed in federal court last week, Gore and former Current CEO Joel Hyatt want $65 million that they claim AJ are wrongly still holding in escrow from the January 2013 sale.
PREVIOUSLY, August 15, 10 AM: Well, looks like it isn’t small change that has Al Gore going after Al Jazeera for breach of contract and fraud. It’s $65 million being held in escrow from the $500 million 2013 sale of Current TV. While the complaint the 45th Vice-President of the United States and his biz partner Joel Hyatt filed in the matter is under seal, an accompanying information sheet provides some detail. Set aside for indemnification purposes for Current’s former shareholders, the last portion of the money was supposed to be released on July 2, according to the 2-page info sheet. That didn’t happen and hence today’s action. “Rather than return the $65 million remaining in the escrow, as it was obligated to do, defendant, on June 27, 2014, submitted five claim certificates through which it attempts to manufacture several ways to retain all of the escrow balance for itself in express violation of the merger agreement,” the accompanying document says.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:15 AM: Over a year and a half after he sold Current TV for $500 million, Al Gore is going after Al Jazeera America for unpaid money on the sale. Unfortunately we don’t know much more because the news network has had the complaint from the former Veep sealed under protest in its Delaware filing. Here’s what we do know, courtesy of Gore and former Current CEO Joel Hyatt’s high profile lawyer. “Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago,” said David Boies today in a statement today. “We are asking the court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current’s former shareholders.”
Gore was estimated to have made around $100 million when the Qatar-backed Al Jazeera bought his 8-year old Current last January. Despite bust-ups with Time Warner Cable and later AT&T, Al Jazeera America debuted in over 30 million homes on August 20 last year. Today Boies, who co-argued successfully for same sex marriage rights in the courts and unsuccessfully for Gore in the 2000 election, also said that Gore and Hyatt hope that the court will reject the complaint being sealed. AJA pretty much kept their lips as sealed on the matter as Gore’s complaint. “Our outside counsel is reviewing the complaint,” said an AJA spokesperson today, saying they may have more to say later. “We think it relates to a commercial dispute between former shareholders of Current Media and Al Jazeera America,” they added in a statement of the obvious.