Israel Military Industries Sued for $10 Million
MIAMI (CN) - A Bolivian man claims in court that Israel Military Industries hung him out to dry for $10 million after he helped it sell 10,000 Galil rifles to Bolivia.
Mario Asbun Telchi sued Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) for breach of contract, in Miami-Dade County Court.
Asbun claims he has represented IMI in Bolivia for nearly 20 years. He worked on commission, and was reimbursed for costs. He says he arranged, at a date not specified, for the Bolivian Ministry of Defense to purchase 10,000 Galil rifles from IMI, for $1,178 apiece.
However, "Beginning in 1999, and continuing thereafter, the Republic of Bolivia initiated a criminal investigation into the Galil contract," Asbun says in the lawsuit. "As part of its investigation, The Bolivian Attorney General issued several summonses, requiring that IMI supply documents relating to the Galil contract, answer questions about its negotiation, and present witnesses in the Republic of Bolivia to be examined.
"Despite its agreement to abide by Bolivian law, IMI refused to subject itself to these requirements and, more specifically, declined to send documents or any official to Bolivia. To date, IMI has refused to cooperate with Bolivian officials in any way with respect to the ongoing criminal investigation.
"During the course of 1999, a commission of Bolivian officials traveled to Israel to view the factory tasked with the manufacture of goods under the Galil contract. While in Israel, the Bolivian officials began to discuss with representatives of IMI the development of reconditioning and maintenance center for the refurbishment of older military equipment (the 'Maintenance Center Project').
"Unable to obtain information from IMI with respect to the ongoing investigation, the Bolivian Attorney General placed the burden of defending IMI on Mr. Asbun. Beginning in 1999 and on a continuing basis thereafter, Mr. Asbun expended substantial sums in the defense of IMI with respect to the criminal investigation thereof. Although it refused to take part, Mr. Asbun's extraordinary expenses were recognized by IMI, which states that Mr. Asbun would be compensated for such extraordinary expenditures out of funds related to the Maintenance Center Project."
But Israel didn't do that, Asbun says.
"In 2008, the State of Israel broke diplomatic relations with the Republic of Bolivia and all further discussions with IMI ceased. Once again, Mr. Asbun, IMI's representative in Bolivia for nearly 20 years, found himself abandoned.
"All subsequent demands by Mr. Asbun for reimbursement of the amounts expended by him in defense of IMI under the Galil contract and in pursuit of the Maintenance Center Project have gone unanswered.
"At present, Mr. Asbun has incurred approximately $10 million in extraordinary expenses relating to the defense of IMI and the Galil contract in Bolivia, as well as in pursuit of the Maintenance Center Project."
Israel broke relations with Bolivia after the populist, left-leaning Evo Morales became president. Morales was first elected in 2006.
Asbun seeks $10 million in legal fees, plus damages for breach of contract and breach of faith.
He is represented by Patrick O'Connor, with of Harper Meyer Perez Hagen O'Connor Albert & Dribin, of Miami.