Lawyer quizzes Blackwater founder in UAE over fraud case
Aug 24, 2010 | 00:00 Updated: Feb 14, 2012 | 12:21
ABU DHABI (AFP) – The founder of the Blackwater security firm was questioned on Monday in Abu Dhabi in a lawsuit filed by two former employees over the company’s operations in Iraq, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said.
“Mr [Erik] Prince did appear for his deposition,” or questioning under oath, said Susan Burke, the lawyer for the two former Blackwater employees who allege that Prince and companies he controlled defrauded the US government.
“We had to go to court to compel the deposition,” she told AFP.
Burke said it was too early to say exactly how much money the lawsuit is seeking, but added that, “My analysis is that by the time we reach the jury, we will be seeking hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Most of that would go to the US government, but Brad and Melan Davis, the former Blackwater employees who filed the lawsuit in December 2008, would also receive a percentage, Burke said.
Prince moved to the United Arab Emirates this month, according to US Department of Justice documents, and was ordered by a US court to appear for the deposition in Abu Dhabi or another location agreed by the two sides.
Citing the Davis’ experiences, the suit alleges that Prince and companies he controlled defrauded the US State Department and the US Department of Homeland Security via “false records, statements, claims, and omissions,” according to court documents.
Prince’s lead attorney, Richard Beizer, did not respond to phone calls and e-mails seeking comment. Burke said he was present at the deposition.
Blackwater, which changed its name to Xe last year, gained notoriety in Iraq after guards protecting a convoy opened fire in a busy Baghdad square in September 2007, killing as many as 17 civilians.
The defendants in the suit are Prince, Blackwater Security Consulting LLC, Xe Services LLC, US Training Centre Inc., Greystone Limited, and the Prince Group LLC, according to the second amended complaint filed in the case