Businessman Barry Minkow must pay home builder Lennar over $583 million after pleading guilty to extorting and defaming the home-building company to hurt its stock price, a state judge has ruled, according to Courthouse News Service.
Judge Gill Freeman wrote: “In or around November 2008, the Minkow defendants entered into an agreement with the Marsch defendants to extort Lennar. The Minkow defendants…agreed to manipulate the public securities markets to harm the Lennar plaintiffs’ business and reputation in an effort to force the Lennar plaintiffs to pay millions of dollars to… Minkow.”
Internet statements and videos released by Minkow tried to link Lennar with Enron, the company famously accused of illegal accounting. Minkow continually accused Lennar, in public forums, of financial crime, fraud and concealing debt.
“By spreading these false statements,” Freeman said, “the Minkow defendants intended to severely and fraudulently manipulate the public market for Lennar Corporation’s publicly trade securities, in addition to damaging the Lennar plaintiffs’ business operations and reputation. The plan worked.”
The court found that Lennar had incurred damages of at least $583.57 million [Courthouse News Service]