PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A shipping company is holding an exporter’s shipment of used cars hostage in Finland as part of a conspiracy to strong-arm the exporter into liquidating its inventory, a racketeering lawsuit claims in Federal Court.
Motostrada says it struck a deal with Michael Hitrinov and his companies, Empire United Lines and Corporate Capital Management, who extended the plaintiff credit to buy and ship hundreds of used cars from the United States to Russia and other former Soviet republics.
In 2007 Empire shipped more than 100 cars from a port in New Jersey to Kotka, Finland, where they were to be stored by a purportedly independent company called CarCont.
But Motostrada claims the defendants owned or controlled CarCont, and tried to conceal their conversion of the plaintiff’s property by claiming CarCont had denied access to the cars due to unpaid storage charges.
The defendants claimed that unless Motostrada paid CarCont 120,000 euros, the storage owner would sell its cars at a public auction, the lawsuit claims.
“Using the inflated CarCont storage charges as a pretext, Defendant Hitrinov then offered to acquire Plaintiff’s inventory for the combined sum of $20,000,” the suit claims.
Motostrada accuses the defendants of conspiring to strip the exporter of its inventory. It is represented by Fox Rothschild LLP.