Taqa wins dismissal of US lawsuit by ex-CEO

Peter Barker-Homek said was forced out of the firm after complaining of kickbacks
Taqa wins dismissal of US lawsuit by ex-CEO
Peter Barker-Homek said he was pushed out of Taqa after identifying fraud
By Bloomberg
Thu 29 Sep 2011 07:51 AM

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co won dismissal of a lawsuit brought by former chief executive officer Peter Barker-Homek who claimed he was forced out of the state-owned energy firm known as Taqa after complaining about fraud.

Barker-Homek, who filed the suit last year in federal court in Detroit, said he was told to “keep quiet,” after he “tried to put a stop to the kickbacks, bribery, accounting fraud and corruption,” according to his complaint. He also sued Taqa General Manager Carl Sheldon, claiming Sheldon forced him to sign a severance agreement in 2009.

Barker-Homek can’t sue Taqa or Sheldon in Michigan despite his claims that fraud occurred in the state, US District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara said today in a 16-page decision dismissing the suit. O’Meara said he wasn’t “persuaded” of a Michigan connection.

“Plaintiff’s breach of contract, retaliation, and various tort claims do not have a ‘substantial connection’ with Taqa’s contacts with Michigan,” O’Meara wrote. As to the claims against Sheldon, “Michigan’s interest in this case is slim to non-existent, given that neither plaintiff nor Sheldon are Michigan citizens and the acts or injuries alleged did not occur here.”

“We disagree with the court’s decision and we’re going to appeal,” A. Sasha Frid, Barker-Homek’s attorney, said in a phone interview.

Barker-Homek contended that fraud occurred at Taqa New World Inc, a subsidiary based in Michigan, and claimed his firing violated Michigan law against dismissing employees who highlight alleged wrongdoing within a company.

Barker-Homek “overstated his and Taqa’s contacts with Michigan,” and hadn’t proved Taqa’s control over the state affiliate, O’Meara said.

Taqa New World couldn’t be sued over the contract because it wasn’t a party in to his employment agreement with the Abu Dhabi parent, O’Meara said. The court couldn’t substitute the affiliate for Taqa so Barker-Homek “may pursue his claims in the United States,” O’Meara wrote. “Plaintiff’s recourse is to pursue his claims against Taqa in Abu Dhabi, as set forth in his employment agreement.”

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