New Favreau Film’s Financier Alleges Fraud

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A movie financier behind Jon Favreau’s in-the-works comedy “Chef” claims in court that a co-financier defrauded it of close to $300,000.
     Sous Chef LLC of Encino sued Xavier Mitchell, his company Providence Films, and Chicago Title Co. in Superior Court, alleging fraud, conversion and breach of written contract in a dispute over a third-party bank account for “Chef” production funds.
     Sous Chef claims it entered into a production agreement last month with Providence to contribute $3 million each into a Bank of America escrow account. Chicago Title Company managed the account, according to the complaint.
     Sous Chef said the parties agreed that it would contribute $500,000 to the joint account since it had already invested $2.5 million in the movie, the lawsuit states.
     Providence would allegedly then deposit $3 million. The parties’ agreement also provided that Providence would advance Sous Chef $200,000 by July 10, 2013, thereby reducing the amount Sous Chef would contribute to the escrow to $2.8 million, according to the complaint.
     But Mitchell and Providence never had “any intention of performing under the agreement,” Sous Chef said.
     Though Sous Chef allegedly upheld its end by wiring $500,000 into an escrow account at a Brea branch of Bank of America, Providence never deposited its $3 million into the account, according to the complaint.
     Providence’s lawyer gave a Sous Chef affiliate and a Chicago Title manager only “‘verbal confirmation'” that it had deposited the $3 million and was in compliance, the lawsuit states.
     Chicago Title nevertheless let Mitchell transfer $297,175 of Sous Chef’s contribution to two bank accounts not listed in the escrow agreement, according to the complaint.
     Sous Chef said the “Chef” production team had no control over those accounts.
     This happened despite an agreement from the parties “that the funds would not be distributed from the escrow account until both parties passed ‘compliance’ with Rabobank, the bank processing the wire transfers, and Chicago Title received confirmation of ‘compliance,'” the 13-page complaint states.
     The Chicago Title employee handling the account allegedly refused to return Sous Chef’s $500,000 deposit or disclose account information for the wires.
     Sous Chef said the title company later informed Sous Chef that non-parties Tier One International and Penny Bid were holding the funds.
     “To date, Providence has not deposited any money into the escrow account, nor has it returned any of Sous Chefs deposit that Chicago Title improperly transferred at Mitchell’s request,” the complaint states.
     Sous Chef seeks its $297,175, plus punitive damages.
     Favreau will star in and direct “Chef,” for which he also wrote the screenplay. Variety reported that the film about a down-on-his-luck chef who opens a food truck also stars Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr., Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson and Bobby Cannavale.
     Sergei Bespalov, co-chairman of Sous Chef’s parent company, Aldamisa Entertainment, will produce and finance the movie.
     Sous Chef is represented by Daniel Rozansky of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.
     Mitchell and Providence’s representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

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