(CN) – A Wall Street executive who founded an advocacy group to protect the image of the financial sector claims a TV production company tricked him into appearing in a documentary that he later learned was to be called “Greed.” Thomas Belesis, CEO of John Thomas Financial, sued Honest Engine and The Independent Film Channel in New York County Court.
Belesis says he founded “Restore Wall Street,” a “nonpartisan advocacy and philanthropic group” to improve the image of the financial sector after the U.S. economy was “shaken by a series of scandals and institutional failures that caused severe harm to the reputations of those who work in the financial sector.”
Belesis claims the production company Honest Engine asked him in February to appear in a documentary about Wall Street to air on the Independent Film Channel.
Belesis says he was told the program was “meant to provide perspective on Wall Street outside of the widespread news coverage through which the entire financial services sector was besmirched for the acts of a handful of bad actors.”
Thinking the show’s goals “mirrored the goals of Restore Wall Street,” Belesis says, he agreed to be interviewed, and allowed crews to film at the offices of John Thomas.
Belesis says he requested sample questions he might be asked, and the samples he was provided led him to believe the documentary was in line with the goals of Restore Wall Street.
It was only through preview videos released on The Independent Film Channel’s website in May, Belesis says, that learned that the show was called “Greed.”
The show was “not a ‘documentary/news’ program … but is rather a biased opinion program intended to further denigrate financial services companies operating in New York City,” Belesis claims.
He claims the videos portray him and John Thomas as “‘Wall Street fat cats’ responsible for the economic downturn and the ruination of the American worker.”
“If Mr. Belesis had been aware that the program would, instead of highlighting the ideals of Restore Wall Street, further entrench the misconception that the entire financial services industry was complicit in the bad behavior that has severely damaged the United States economy, he would not have agreed to the use of his likeliness or the use of John Thomas as a filming location,” Belesis says.
Belesis seeks damages for fraudulent inducement and fraudulent misrepresentation. He also want the online promotional videos removed or blocked, and wants the show enjoined from being broadcast on television or the Internet.
He is represented by Michael Elkin with Winston & Strawn.