LOS ANGELES (CN) — Singer-songwriter Chris Brown claims in a lawsuit that a lawyer used armed men to try to extort him for $300,000 in the Philippines, threatening to have him jailed on phony charges and delaying his exit flight.
In a Friday lawsuit in Superior Court, Brown claims that Jose Victor Los Banos Giongco, of greater Los Angeles, working with a Filipino attorney, tried “to extort Chris Brown by unlawfully threatening to have him arrested and sent to jail, and demanding $300,000 payment in exchange for safe passage home.”
Brown says “a group of armed personnel prevented him from leaving” his hotel in Manila on July 22, 2015. He had performed in Manila on July 21, to make up for a New Year’s Eve concert he had missed in 2014, “due to a misplaced passport,” Brown says in his complaint for civil extortion.
The concert he missed was to be in the Philippines Arena, owned by the Magilaya Corporation, in Ciudad de Victoria. To make it up, he says, he and Magilaya agreed to the substitute date, where he performed.
Stopped by the armed men, Brown says, “a man identifying himself as counsel for Magilaya Corp. (‘Magilaya Counsel’)… acting in his individual capacity, contacted Brown’s attorney and threatened to have the singer jailed for fraud for missing the New Year’s Eve concert.
“Magilaya Counsel then informed plaintiff’s counsel that he could ‘make it all go away’ if plaintiff paid Magilaya Counsel and his associated — defendant Jose Victor Los Banos Biongco —$300,000,” according to the 7-page complaint filed by L.A. attorney Mark Geragos.
The lawsuit describes Giongco as a resident of Los Angeles County. California State Bar records and attorney-search websites such as lawyer.com, and others, list a lawyer named Jose Victor Los Banos Giongco from Cerritos, who graduated from law school in the Philippines.
Other online information indicates that Giongco died in January. A phone message left at a number attached to his name was not returned.
Attorney Geragos, well-known head of Geragos & Geragos, did not respond to a phone message and an email about the case.
In his lawsuit, Brown says his attorney, “rather than immediately acquiescing to Magilaya Counsel’s extortion demand,” hired an immigration attorney, who contacted the Philippines Department of Justice and obtained flight clearance for Brown to leave.
“(F)earing for plaintiff’s safety,” Brown says, his attorney “reached out to defendants per their instruction regarding the $300,000 demand. Defendants reiterated that flight clearance would only be grained if plaintiff first transferred $300,000 to Victor’s trust account.”
Having obtained legitimate flight clearance, however, Brown left the country on July 24, whereupon, he says, the defendants “attempted to extort plaintiff one last time by taking credit for the flights clearance obtained by plaintiff’s immigration attorney,” and demanded $300,000 again.
He seeks punitive damages for civil extortion and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Brown is as well known for his legal problems and troubling behavior as he is for his music. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to assaulting his ex-girlfriend Rhianna, and was sentenced to 180 days community service and 5 years probation. In June last year, his personal manager accused Brown of assaulting him in a “drug fueled” attack. That lawsuit too was in L.A. Superior Court. Later that month, rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight sued Brown in the same court, accusing him of allowing guns into a nightclub party where Knight was shot seven times. When he filed his complaint, Knight was in jail awaiting trial on murder charges.
Brown was arrested and charged with assault in 2013 in Washington, D.C., jailed in 2014 for probation violations, and has been refused entry to Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom for his criminal record.