More Twists in Long-Running Aramid Saga

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – In a lawsuit citing clandestine telephone conversations, a supposed FBI asset and personal betrayal, movie producer David Bergstein claims he was extorted for millions of dollars by a former friend and business partner.
     David Bergstein and Pineboard Holdings sued Bergstein’s former business partner Parmjit Singh Parmar, Aramid Capital Partners and its chairman David Molner, Aramid Entertainment Fund, and Screen Capital International, in Superior Court.
     Cayman Islands-based Aramid Entertainment Fund offers loans to film and television producers and distributors “secured against a variety of assets,” according to its website, checked this morning.
     Aramid is a frequent flyer in the courts – the Courthouse News Service database has nearly 30 entries with Aramid as a defendant, including nine claims for breach of contract and/or fiduciary duty, one claim of usury, and several involving bankruptcy.
     Bergstein has filed at least 23 lawsuits related to his entertainment industry dealings, according to the CNS database. He has been locked in litigation with Molner and Aramid for more than three years, according to entertainment industry reports.
     In his latest lawsuit, Bergstein claims Molner and Aramid siphoned more than $60 million from Aramid, then made him a “boogeyman” and “patsy” when burned investors came calling.
     “Bergstein is a successful entrepreneur with business interests in a variety of industries, including entertainment,” the complaint states. “Bergstein had conducted business with AEF [Aramid Entertainment Fund] and Molner for several years at the point Molner put him in his sights. Molner’s plan was simple: blame Bergstein for what Molner had done then bury Bergstein to make it all disappear.”
     In his complaint, Bergstein claims that his former business partner Parmjit ‘Paul’ Parmar secretly recorded hours of telephone conversations to help Molner litigate lawsuits tied to the producer’s 2010 bankruptcy.
     Bergstein claims that after Molner urged the FBI to probe his financial dealings, Parmar claimed he was a “trusted” counterterrorism asset who had worked with the feds in India and Pakistan.
     The late director Sidney Lumet is also name-checked. Bergstein claims that Molner offered Parmar a part in the next Sidney Lumet movie if he would aid the “nefarious conspiracy.”
     Bergstein claims Parmar and Molner extorted him and Pineboard for more than $7 million.
     Parmar was once a health care, aviation, real estate and entertainment magnate with a $200 million fortune, until several of his investments were wiped out and creditors took him to court, Bergstein says in the complaint.
     It all used to be so different, Bergstein says.
     As millions suffered from the Great Recession, Parmar portrayed himself “as the poster-child for how the Great Recession was not having any effect on the ‘Super Rich,'” Bergstein claims.
     “In April 2008, Parmar was quoted as explaining how the downturn was not affecting his spending, pointing to the $110,000 BMW he recently purchased for his girlfriend to go with the even more expensive Bentley he acquired for himself. Featured on ABC’s Nightline profiling ‘recession-proof living,’ Parmar was quoted as asking, ‘What recession?’ while being interviewed on his private jet,” according to the complaint.
     It adds: “Parmar’s fairy tale, however, eventually came crumbling down. The cars and the jets were repossessed and his palace wound up in foreclosure. Stripped of his millions, Parmar became a desperate man. Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
     As Parmar faced the loss of his $22 million, 32-acre New Jersey compound, and a $25 million default judgment, Bergstein claims, Parmar asked for help, while also “making aggressive demands.”
     Prompted by Molner, who had “aggressively courted” him, Parmar surreptitiously recorded his private telephone conversations with Bergstein, according to the complaint.
     Parmar was “well aware of Bergstein’s problems with Molner,” when in 2010 the business partner disclosed that he was talking to the FBI in a criminal investigation of Bergstein, the complaint states.
     “Bergstein asked Parmar why he thought that he, Parmar, had been singled out for interview. Parmar explained that he had been working for the Federal Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency (NSA), which was why he would frequently travel overseas, including to India and Pakistan, as a counter-terrorism asset. Parmar told Bergstein that since he was a trusted asset, they relied on him for the truth and explained to Bergstein that he had significant access to the FBI and other law enforcement and government relationships,” the complaint states.
     Parmar told Bergstein that his relationship with the feds “could either serve to help or harm” the producer, and warned that he would sink Bergstein unless he surrendered to his financial demands, according to the complaint.
     Bergstein says that through late 2012, he had paid Parmar and his companies more than $7 million.
     “Bergstein had spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money working to resolve the $50 million worth of claims against Parmar,” he says in the complaint.
     Bergstein claims that Parmar refused to release to Pineboard troubled medical assets, though he received $4.1 million for them.
     “Finally, by late 2012, Bergstein awakened to the realization that any further efforts to recover the assets that were properly his (or any efforts to break free from Parmar) would be futile, and he would continue to be vulnerable to further exploitation and extortion by Parmar Bergstein, therefore, ended the relationship,” the complaint states.
     In the intervening time, Parmar made a $5 million demand to keep the recorded phone conversations under wraps, the complaint states.
     When Bergstein refused, “Parmar claimed that he had still even worse dirt on Bergstein and that there was still time to prevent its release if his demands were met. Parmar blatantly threatened Bergstein, ‘Don’t fuck with me or you will regret it,'” the complaint states.
     “Once a Master of the Universe with private jets and an opulent mansion, Parmar has since fallen on hard times and has, out of greed, fear and desperation done whatever he could to stay afloat,” the complaint states. “This has included, unthinkably, betraying a friend and colleague, Bergstein. With Parmar, Molner hit the jackpot. Parmar not only had Bergstein’s trust and confidence, but he had illegal recordings of telephone conversations between the two. Parmar was a treasure trove of information that Molner could use in his war against Bergstein.”
     According to the Hollywood Reporter, Bankruptcy Judge Barry Russell recently approved a bankruptcy trustee’s motion to allow Molner’s companies to try to recover assets, allegedly hidden by Bergstein’s companies.
     “The motion lets Molner trace missing funds and assets, even if they lead to third party companies controlled by Bergstein and his former business partner Ronald Tutor, and others. Molner has already filed more than 90 lawsuits in pursuit of the missing assets,” the Hollywood Reporter said.
     Russell called “dubious” Bergstein’s claim that Aramid owes millions to his bankrupt companies, the Reporter added.
     “This is Episode 5 of the ‘Why David Bergstein is the Victim’ movie, a film most agree should never had been made,” Molner said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Bergstein’s sob story is a joke and so are the legal theories in this complaint. What Bergstein is really worried about is Parmar’s tapes. There are hundreds of hours of phone conversations that were recorded with Bergstein’s knowledge and produced in another legal proceeding. This is the latest trick to keep those from ever seeing the light of day,” according to the Reporter.
     Bergstein seeks costs, and compensatory and punitive damages for civil extortion, conspiracy and aiding and abetting.
     He is represented by Alex Weingarten with Weingarten Brown.

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