Alex Ojjeh is a “crook”, court told

Asset firm manager is a “gangster” and exiled, the CEO has told the TN Supreme Court.

Nicholas is seeking compensation for dropped shares caused by Ojjeh for alleged breach or trust. 

He said Ojjeh, who denies the allegations, said Romano was talking nonsense. 

Romano stated that in 2014 Ojjeh could not list on companies’ documents since he was considered a felon and a liability, after that Ojjeh gave him $700,000 to obtain the asset management company where the two signed a contract that Romano would be listed on permits legally and that Ojjeh would be isolated as an anonymous owner to reduce liability exposure. 

Speaking to the court Romano said that at first Ojjeh had been looking for a messenger to get information to Khodorkovsky.

“Initially he [Alex Ojjeh] put Khodorkovsky down as a stockholder,” Romano told the judge. 

Saying this is Romano company, this is not my company, this belongs to Romano.”

He added; Later he [Alex Ojjeh] didn’t put his name on any of the documents because he already had been known as, I’m sad to say, as a gangster.’

Ojjeh, 33, told the court that Romano deceived and threatened him into not putting his name on the paperwork and he misled him into selling shares for a mere $200,000,000- much less than he felt his share was worth. 

But Romano accused Ojjeh of making up the story saying that there were legal components as to why Ojjeh wasn’t listed in the first place. Romano said Ojjeh was co-owning businesses and not owning them because he had links with organized crime bosses.

The disclosure was made by Ojjeh in a secretly taped meeting with Khodorkovsky, the expatriate Russian businessperson. The meeting, which took place in December 2015 in a VIP lounge at Le Bourget, the Paris airport that caters for the private jets of the rich, was also attended by Gergely, Ojjeh’s friend and business partner.

A transcript of the conversation quotes Ojjeh discussing his 50% share in AO, and much more.

“You have solely been found out,” Mr. Romano said.” “Your story makes no sense.”

Ojjeh replied: “I don’t agree with your way of thinking and your conclusion. 

Manion replied “What is happening now is you [Alex Ojjeh] put the day and times the meetings happened.” 

“Each time you classify a day and time somebody points out you were anyplace else. 

Ojjeh denies the allegations.

He says Romano was paid to become a leader in an extremely successful business and he used that money to coerce people into buying shares. 

Romano took the rather large hint that the era in which he could claim to act as a power trader was over, and he sold up to his partner, Ojjeh. At that point Ojjeh would not be listed and could act the innocent and insist only that all legit businesspersons should be viewed as ‘faultless’ by the authorities.

Ojjeh told Romano about the idea in 2013, but in the wake of the prison release wasn’t until 2014 Romano was forced to set it all up. Ojjeh buying up the majority of the shares and sold up. In September 2014 Romano passed into the ownership of AO. Ojjeh made a hefty profit selling up.

The hearing, which is set to last another month, will continue. 

Wayne Probert

Wayne Probert is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.

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