Joseph Sigelman, the former co-CEO of PetroTiger who was sentenced to probation and no jail time for an FCPA conspiracy when he pleaded guilty two weeks into his trial, is now fighting with the lawyers who defended him.
Quinn Emanuel demanded arbitration against Sigelman last month, according to a report by the American Lawyer. The firm said Sigelman still owes $3.69 million in unpaid legal fees.
Sigelman counter sued Quinn Emanuel in Florida state court in Miami on March 7.
He claims “he already paid the firm $8.4 million, and that he never received ‘complete invoices or backup for the astronomical amount of expenses’ he’s accused of not paying,” the American Lawyer said.
Sigelman, 44, faced up to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA.
The plea deal came two weeks into his trial after a witness for the prosecution — PetroTiger’s former general counsel, Gregory Weisman — recanted his testimony.
At his sentencing in June 2015, Sigelman said he deeply regretted not putting in place a compliance program.
The DOJ wanted Sigelman to serve a year in prison after his guilty plea. But Judge Joseph Irenas of the federal district court in New Jersey gave him a year of probation and no jail time.
The probation-only result was widely viewed as a big win for Sigelman.
The DOJ originally charged him with one conspiracy count and three substantive counts of violating the FCPA. He also faced charges for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
According to the indictment, he and others bribed an official at Ecopetrol SA, Colombia’s state-controlled oil company, to win a $39 million contract.
Weisman, the former PetroTiger general counsel, pleaded guilty to a fraud-related conspiracy count in late 2013. In September 2015, Judge Irenas sentenced him to two years probation.
A third defendant, Knut Hammarskjold, a PetroTiger co-CEO, pleaded guilty in February 2014 to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and to commit wire fraud. Judge Irenas sentenced him in September 2015 to time served and two years of supervised release.
PetroTiger is a privately held British Virgin Islands company with operations in Colombia and offices in New Jersey. It provides production testing services to oil and gas companies.
After Sigelman’s trial ended, the DOJ declined to prosecute PetroTiger.
Sigelman lives in Miami. He’s asking the Florida state court to award him a refund from Quinn Emanuel. He said he paid the firm a $2.5 million advance for a six-week trial. He thought that amount was a cap. And when his trial ended early, he believed he was entitled to some money back.
Quinn Emanuel partner Marc Becker told the American Lawyer:
Having won the case for him, he now refuses to pay the attorneys’ fees in full for the successful representation, or abide by the arbitration agreement he signed. This matter is properly before the arbitral forum, and we are confident Mr. Sigelman’s effort to avoid the arbitration agreement by suing in his home state will be defeated.
The firm said it worked on Sigelman’s case for two years and interviewed potential witnesses all over the world.
It said it sent Sigelman detailed monthly invoices for all fees and costs, which he eventually stopped paying.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.