LOS ANGELES—A federal judge ordered attorneys Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck to turn over a list of claimants and bank records related to a $17.5 million settlement between the French AXA Insurance company and descendants of the Armenian Genocide, who had filed participated in the class action lawsuit, reported the National Law Journal.
The two attorneys had until Wednesday, May 4, to turn over the claimants’ list and have until May 12 to present bank records according to an April 28 ruling by US District Judge Christina Snyder.
The order comes after the a complaint by the attorneys’ one time co-counsel Vartkes Yeghiayan raised concerns about how the AXA funds were distributed and whether the two adhered to the ruling.
Geragos and Kabateck filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on March 11 alleging that Yeghiayan had defrauded the community by diverting settlements funds to fictitious charities.
Amanda Bronstad of the National Law Review reported that the AXA settlement allocated $3 million for organizations espousing Armenian causes; whatever remained unclaimed was to go to additional charitable institutions. By early 2010, more than $8.5 million had been distributed, with nearly $2.9 million unclaimed. Kabateck, a partner at Kabateck Brown Kellner, and Geragos, of the Law Offices of Geragos & Geragos, were in charge of designating one set of charitable organizations and Yeghiayan a separate set. Snyder gave Kabateck and Geragos $1.9 million, while Yeghiayan, of Yeghiayan Law Corp. in Glendale, Calif., received $952,000; the funds were placed in separate accounts.
Bronstad reported that Kabateck, in an interview, said that he and Geragos will produce the records requested by the order, adding that he and Geragos had nothing to do with paying AXA claims.
A week after Geragos and Kabateck filed the suit against Yeghiayan, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Political Council issued a declaration calling on attorneys involved in cases related to Genocide survivor settlements to immediately submit all records to an independent audit.
“Regardless of whether these accusations prove to be true, they do have the potential to shake the trust of our people concerning national issues, despite the fact that the lawsuits in question stemmed from personal interests and were initiated and led by individual attorneys,” said the ARF declaration.
“In order to maintain –as much as possible– the trust of the Armenian people intact, we demand that the sides, independent of the court proceedings, voluntarily and immediately submit the settlement disbursements to a full and complete independent professional audit, and inform the Armenian people of the results. The process should have been carried out with such transparency from the very beginning. Now it has become urgent and critical,” concluded the declaration.
Read Bronstad’s National Law Journal article here.