In a case that reads “straight out of a Hollywood script — or at least a second-rate mystery novel,” according to one Washington judge, two Bahamas-based companies are seeking dismissal of lawsuit that accuses them of conspiring to hide a $14 million offshore bank account.
Tonya Day, a Las Vegas resident, filed suit in August 2010 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against The Cornèr Bank (Overseas) Ltd. and law firm Graham Thompson. Day claimed that her mother, shortly before she died in a car accident, spoke of a $14 million account at a “corner bank” and noted that account numbers were printed on a sticker on the back of a painting in her possession.
Day alleges that when she tracked down Cornèr Bank in Nassau, she was told no such account existed. She claims she hired a Nassau-based firm, Graham Thompson, only to learn later on that the firm was also representing the bank at the time.
Graham Thompson filed a motion to dismiss (PDF) yesterday and Cornèr Bank filed its motion to dismiss (PDF) today. Both companies argue that there is no jurisdiction for the case to proceed in Washington.
Day is being represented by George Lambert of the Law Office of Leonard Suchanek in Washington, who declined to comment. Cornèr Bank is being represented by Mark MacDougall and Lauren Kerwin of Washington’s Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Graham Thompson is being represented by Hogal Lovells’ Albert Turnbull and Shardul Desai; they also declined to comment.
In a previous ruling (PDF) earlier this month denying a motion to dismiss based on how the complaint was served and a motion for sanctions, Chief Judge Royce Lambert wrote that Day’s complaint (PDF) “details a sordid affair straight out of a Hollywood script—or at least a second-rate mystery novel.”
Day claims that her mother’s long-time romantic partner had set aside money in a bank account with funds from his various investments in an oil business. According to the complaint, Day said her mother revealed the Nassau account to her in 2006 because she “had a premonition of dying soon and wished to reveal to her something.”
Several months later, Day’s mother was killed by a drunk driver before she could give Day any more details or provide documentation; Day doesn’t mention the existence of a will. Day found the numbers printed on the back of the painting her mother had told her about and tracked down the Cornèr Bank in Nassau.
A bank official told Day that such an account didn’t exist, so she hired Graham Thompson to help her pursue the claim. Graham Thompson had unrelated business with the bank, and notes in its motion to dismiss that it withdrew as counsel several days later.
In addition to arguing for dismissal on the grounds that the case has no ties to Washington, Cornèr Bank has repeatedly denied that the account exists.
BLT is the blog of the Legal Times, an affiliate of the Daily Business Review.