Federal court throws out fraud suit against oil company owner

By Chandra Lye | Oct 3, 2018

The plaintiffs claim they invested in oil drilling off the Brazilian coast.   Photo by Zukiman Mohamad from Pexels

MIAMI –– A federal judge threw out a lawsuit accusing an oil exploration company of misleading investors.

Judge Kathleen Williams of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed fraud, civil theft and conspiracy claims against Eike Batista, a Brazilian business man, and his collection of oil exploration companies. 

Meridian Trust Company and American Associated Group brought the lawsuit on behalf of a Floridian and his family over investments made to Batista. The plaintiffs claimed Batista and his associates made several false statements about the viability of the oil exploration operation, such as the company discovered hundreds of millions of barrels of oil off the Brazilian coast. 

Later, Batista admitted many of the oil wells were not productive and began to sell large shares of his company's stock, the plaintiffs claim.

In her order, Williams said the plaintiffs did not properly show which statements they relied upon that damaged their investment. 

"The complaint does cite to alleged misleading material facts, press releases, interviews and television shows and describes the nature of the statements and, in some instances, the persons who disseminated them," Williams wrote. "However, the complaint never identifies which of those statements the plaintiffs or the plaintiffs' investment advisor relied upon, or whether they relied on each and all of them."

β€œIn cases with multiple defendants, it is critical that plaintiffs specifically identify which statements they relied upon in advancing a RICO claim,” Williams added. 

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