Ex-Oxbow exec says billionaire Koch held him captive
A former vice president of Oxbow Carbon LLC, which operates a coal mine in Delta County, has filed a civil complaint against his former boss, billionaire William Koch.
But company officials say the civil lawsuit, filed in state court in northern California, is nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from his own wrongdoing.
The vice president, Kirby Martensen of Berkeley, Calif., claims Koch imprisoned and interrogated him last year, and accused him of theft and attempting to defraud the West Palm Beach, Fla.-based company.
In that lawsuit, filed Friday, Martensen said he believed Koch was trying to use him and other executives to establish an off-shore company to avoid paying U.S. taxes on millions of tons of petroleum coke exported from its mine near Somerset.
“Martensen understood that the goal of this assignment was to help legitimize (the company’s) Bahamian shell company,” Courthouse News Service reported the complaint as saying. “Plaintiff was informed that the move to Asia was for tax purposes. More than 75 percent of Oxbow’s fuel-grade petroleum coke export profiles were derived from its Asian trading business.”
Company official Brad Goldstein denied the accusations.He said the company learned of a scheme to defraud it of more than $40 million. As a result, last March it filed civil charges against Martensen.
“Kirby Martensen states in a lawsuit that we investigated him for participating in a wide-ranging scheme to defraud, accepting bribes and diverting business from our company,” Goldstein said. “He is right. We absolutely investigated Martensen and determined that he did participate in the fraud against the company.”
Goldstein said the company identified others involved in the scheme, some of whom have confessed to wrongdoing and implicated Martensen in the matter.
“(We) are pursuing appropriate action to hold them accountable,” Goldstein said.
In his complaint, Martensen said Koch used “false pretenses” to lure him and other executives from San Francisco to the billionaire’s secluded ranch near Aspen, where Martensen said he was interrogated for hours. Later, Martensen said he was given his termination papers and notice of the Florida lawsuit.
Koch, 72, is the brother of Charles and David Koch, deep-pocketed donors of several Republican candidates and tea party groups.
William Koch is listed at 92nd on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans, saying he’s worth about $4 billion. Both of his brothers are tied as the fourth richest in the nation each worth about $31 billion.