LOS ANGELES (CN) – Jennifer Lopez has slapped her former driver and security chief with a $20 million countersuit for blackmail and extortion, claiming he threatened to ruin her reputation unless she paid him $2.8 million.
The singer’s counterclaim in Superior Court rebuts Hakob Manoukian’s claim that the singer fired him and reneged on a deal to pay him $200,000 after he fell out of favor with her manager, Benny Medina.
Lopez says Manoukian “solicited employment with Ms. Lopez, completed only one month of service, quit his job under false pretenses and thereafter threatened to severely damage Ms. Lopez’s reputation unless he was paid $2.8 million.”
She claims Manoukian asked her to hire him in 2011 as her driver and head of security at her Los Angeles home. He then quit his job with ARI Enterprises, a company owned by Lopez’s then-husband Marc Anthony, to work for Lopez.
She says she agreed to pay him an unspecified weekly salary plus bonuses.
Soon after, Manoukian got upset during the production of a music video when Medina hired a security team that Lopez had previously worked with, “in lieu of the new and untested security team recommended by Manoukian,” Lopez claims.
“When Manoukian was advised that he was not in charge of the security on the music video, he became hostile and angry because he mistakenly and unreasonably believed he had the unqualified right to designate the security team and profit from any budgetary allocations for such security,” the lawsuit states.
“Manoukian plotted to retaliate against Ms. Lopez and her management and to use his apparent position of trust to exploit and extort substantial sums from Ms. Lopez.”
Lopez says the Iraq-born Manoukian abruptly quit, and he and his attorney began threatening her, demanding $2.8 million to prevent him from going public with “sensitive and personal information that he had allegedly overheard” as Lopez’s chauffeur.
Manoukian characterized the disclosures as “disruptive and potentially damaging” to Lopez’s lucrative career, according to the lawsuit.
“Manoukian also made other ominous threats to report Ms. Lopez to the ‘authorities’ if his demands were not met,” Lopez claims. “All these threats were intended to cause Ms. Lopez to capitulate to Manoukian’s demands and were in total disregard of Manoukian’s signed confidentiality agreement.”
She is suing Manoukian for extortion, attempted extortion, breach of oral contract, breach of written contract, breach of fiduciary duty, interference with contractual relations, interference with prospective economic advantage and civil conspiracy.
Her attorney is Alex Weingarten with Weingarten Brown in Los Angeles.