Everton bidders 777 Partners sued in New York for $350m collateral fraud

May 7 – The prospective takeover of ailing English Premier League club Everton by 777 Partners has been plunged into further doubt after one of its lenders accused the Miami-based investment firm of fraud running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to a lawsuit filed in a federal court in New York, 777 owes more than $600 million to two London-based asset management companies, Leadenhall Capital and Leadenhall Life.

777 has already lent around £200 million to Everton but the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test has stalled the sale.

The two London companies allege that 777 Partners used $350 million of assets that either were not controlled by the Miami-based firm or which “did not exist”.

In the court filing the lawsuit states: “To induce Leadenhall to fund their operation, (Josh) Wander (777 Partners co-owner), along with his group of alter ego entities, “pledged” over $350 million in assets as collateral to Leadenhall, knowing all along that the assets either did not exist, were not actually owned by Wander’s entities, or had already been pledged to another lender.”

The complaint has details from recorded meetings between Leadenhall and 777 Partners co-owner Wander, where he acknowledged that assets used to back Leadenhall deals had already been allocated as security on other deals.

Wander also pledged assets that the court filing says either didn’t exist or were not owned by his company.

Meanwhile the former owner of Belgian club Standard Liege, Bruno Venanzi, and the shareholders of Standard’s stadium allege that they have not received the second instalment of their payment for the 777’s acquisition of the club in 2022.

This also raises questions over whether the Premier League will grant the sale of a 94.1% stake in Everton from owner Farhad Moshiri to 777 Partners.

Everton are under intense financial pressure, with reports that the club have approached insolvency experts from the consultancy firm Teneo to advise on their finances and return to the market in a search for new investors.

777 also own stakes in Serie A  side Genoa, Vasco da Gama in Brazil, Hertha Berlin in Germany, French side Red Star and LaLiga club Sevilla, as well as the London Lions basketball team.

Everton secured their Premier League safety last month and currently sit 15th, 11 points above the relegation zone. An appeal against a two-point deduction for profitability and sustainability rule (PSR) breaches is set to be heard later this month. The club had already had a 10-point reduction reduced to six points on appeal earlier this season.

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