- A $US500 million deal to buy Harvey Weinstein’s company has reportedly collapsed following an explosive new lawsuit.
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil rights lawsuit earlier on Sunday against Weinstein and The Weinstein Company.
- It provides details of Weinstein’s alleged aggressive behaviour and says board members facilitated it.
- The Attorney General’s office said the timing of the suit was due to “the possible imminent sale” of the company.
A deal in the works to buy disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s company has reportedly collapsed after the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the company and its founders.
A group led by businesswoman Maria Contreras-Sweet was reportedly set to close a deal to buy the troubled Weinstein Company for about $US500 million, including any assumption of debt, the The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a source with knowledge of the transaction.
However, news of the decision by Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general, to file a lawsuit against Weinstein and his company reportedly left too much uncertainty for the deal’s success.
Schneiderman’s office said the timing of the suit was due to “the possible imminent sale” of The Weinstein Company.
It said the sale could “could leave survivors of Respondents’ (Weinstein’s) unlawful conduct without adequate redress [and] enable perpetrators or enablers of misconduct to obtain unwarranted financial benefits.”
So far, Schneiderman has not sought a restraining order which would halt the completion of the sale, but the suit ramps up the pressure on any potential buyers.
The Weinstein Company’s board of directors released a statement on Sunday which said the lawsuit makes untrue claims.
It said: “We are disappointed that the New York Attorney General felt it necessary to file today’s complaint.
“Many of the allegations relating to the Board are inaccurate and the Board looks forward to bringing the facts to light as part of its ongoing commitment to resolve this difficult situation in the most appropriate way.”
The statement also addressed the Weinstein Company’s pending plans to sell the company, which the company said it did in order to “preserve jobs and create a victim fund.”
“Any suggestion that the Company or its Board somehow impeded or discouraged the buyer’s access to the New York Attorney General is simply untrue.
“Indeed, the Company and its Board actively encouraged the buyer to communicate with the Attorney General. The Company looks forward to continuing our discussions with the Attorney General in order to reach our common goal of bringing this situation to an appropriate resolution.”
The suit targets Weinstein’s sexual misconduct and the board members who enabled him
Business Insider has reviewed details of the civil rights suit against Weinstein, which attacks what it calls the company’s “gender-based hostile work environment.”
It targets Harvey Weinstein for allegations of sexual misconduct, as well as the executives and board of The Weinstein Company for failing to protect employees from Weinstein.
The suit comes after a four-month investigation by the attorney general’s office into mounting allegations against Weinstein and his business.
According to the lawsuit, Weinstein told several employees “I will kill you” or “I will kill your family.” He also told employees “you don’t know what I can do” and often touted his connection to powerful political figures and reported contacts within the Secret Service that could “take care of problems.”
The suit also describes how Weinstein manipulated and intimidated groups of female employees.
The Weinstein Company allegedly employed a group of female employees whose primary job was to accompany Weinstein to major Hollywood events and facilitate his sexual “conquests.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Harvey’s brother Robert Weinstein and other high-ranking board members at The Weinstein Company knew about the sexual misconduct actively disregarded claims, or attempted to pay off his victims.
According to the suit, The Weinstein Company took no action to investigate claims of sexual misconduct or prevent the behaviour from continuing.
The New York Times first reported on the claims against Weinstein in October, and The New Yorker followed up with several new detailed allegations shortly after. In all, more than 60 women have accused Weinstein of varying degrees of sexual misconduct.