Billionaire Koch brother ‘imprisoned and interrogated executive who had concerns over the company’s tax evasion scheme’

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By Snejana Farberov

PUBLISHED:17:57 EST, 13  October 2012| UPDATED:19:22 EST, 13 October 2012

Tycoon: William Koch, the CEO of the Oxbow Group with a personal worth of $4billion, is accused of imprisoning and interrogating one of his executives
Tycoon: William Koch, the CEO of the Oxbow Group with a  personal worth of $4billion, is accused of imprisoning and interrogating one of  his executives

Billionaire and major Republican donor  William Koch had one of his executives imprisoned and interrogated for hours on  a secluded ranch because he was suspected of defrauding his employers, according  to a federal lawsuit.

Kirby Martensen, of Berkley, California,  alleges in his complaint that he worked as an executive for several companies in  Koch’s Oxbow Group until March, when he was suddenly fired.

According to Martensen, Oxbow Carbon &  Minerals (OCM) International, the world’s largest petroleum coke distributer,  promoted him to senior vice president of its Asia operation in 2011 and he moved  to the company’s Singapore office.

The lawsuit filed in the Northern District of  California states that after making the move, Martensen was told by his  superiors that his goal as vice president of OCM Asia was to help the company  evade paying taxes to the U.S. on profits totaling more than $200 million a  year.

Last year, William Koch received an anonymous  letter alleging that Martensen and another OCM employee had been engaging in  theft, breaches of fiduciary duty and fraud.

Based on that information, the businessman  ordered a forensic review of thousands of documents, including emails, which has  revealed that Martensen and several of his co-workers were concerned about the  legality of what they were doing, according to the lawsuit.

Success story: Bill Koch left the family business of Koch Industries to start a new energy corporation which includes Oxbow Carbon & Minerals InternationalSuccess story: Bill Koch left the family business of  Koch Industries to start a new energy corporation which includes Oxbow Carbon & Minerals International

‘As a result, William Koch promoted and  implemented a plan to intimidate and discredit plaintiff for the purpose of  chilling his speech and damaging his credibility,’ the complaint cited by the Courthouse  News Service states.

Koch, who is David Koch’s twin brother, is  estimated to be worth $4billion. In the 1980s, he left the family business, Koch  Industries, to start the Oxbow Group.

David Koch and his older brother, Charles,  are still with Koch industries, which is the second largest privately owned  company in the nation.

Bill Koch has given $3million to the super  PAC Restore Our Future, which supports Republican presidential candidate Mitt  Romney.

In March, the 72-year-old billionaire had  allegedly lured Martensen under false pretenses to his Aspen ranch located on a  property designed to look like an old Western ghost town.

The plaintiff says Bear Ranch was largely cut  off from the outside world, accessible only through a private road and had no  cell phone reception.

In his complaint, Martensen describes how on  the morning following his arrival at the ranch, he and several other OCM  co-workers had breakfast and were then invited by Koch to tour his faux-19th  century Western town – a collection of about 50 buildings.

The sightseeing excursion was followed by a  helicopter tour and lunch hosted by Bill Koch.

Secluded: Martensen alleges in his lawsuit that Koch had him taken to his ranch near Aspen located on a property that was designed to look like a 19th century Western town Secluded: Martensen alleges in his lawsuit that Koch had  him taken to his ranch near Aspen located on a property that was designed to  look like a 19th century Western town

The lawsuit goes on to say that following  lunch, Martensen and others were told that they would be interviewed by a  compensation specialist as part of a peer review. The OCM Asia vice president  was then taken to a small room and questioned by two of Koch’s  agents.

The interview quickly turned into an  interrogation which lasted several hours, according to the complaint. Martensen  was accused of defrauding Oxbow and Koch of millions of dollars, accepting  bribes from competitors and diverting freight to a known business  rival.

When the interrogation was over, Martensen  was led to an SUV and instructed to sit in the back. Just outside of town, the  vehicle came to a stop, windows were rolled down and the OCM vice president was  served with his termination papers and a lawsuit.

Before leaving the ranch, Martensen was  brought to the main house to collect his belongings, during which time one of  Koch’s agents searched his suitcase and toiletries. But that was not the end of  the former executive’s odyssey.

Instead of being taken to Aspen as promised,  Martensen was driven to a nearby cabin, where he was told by the driver, ‘A  sheriff is here to make sure you don’t wander off,’ the suit claims. Martensen  saw through a window a marked police vehicle parked nearby with a man in uniform  behind the wheel.

After three hours of captivity, Martensen was  told to collect his things and that he would be taken to an airport. Martensen  asked to be driven to Aspen because he had a scheduled flight to San Francisco  the next morning. Instead, the former OCM employee was told that he was being  taken to Denver.

David KochCharles Koch

Power brokers: William Koch’s twin brother David, left,  and older sibling Charles, right, have been making enormous contributions to  Mitt Romeny’s presidential campaign this election season

According to the lawsuit, Martensen then was  kidnapped and kept imprisoned in the vehicle during the trip to Denver, where he  was led to a private jet that took him to Oakland, California.

During the flight, Martensen was accompanied  by an escort who he believed was armed.

Martensen says he suffered great anxiety,  fear, humiliation and emotional distress. He seeks compensatory and punitive  damages for false imprisonment and civil conspiracy.

In a statement released on Friday, Brad  Goldstein, director of corporate affairs for Oxbow, said:

“Kirby Martensen states in a lawsuit that we  investigated him for participating in a wide-ranging scheme to defraud,  accepting bribes and diverting business from our company. He is right. We  absolutely investigated Martensen and determined that he did participate in the  fraud against the company.

‘We identified who was defrauding us and are  pursuing appropriate action to hold them accountable. In fact, several of the  wrongdoers have admitted their involvement and one has directly implicated Mr.  Martensen in the scheme.

‘Any allegations of misconduct by Mr. Koch  simply are untrue and stem from Martensen’s attempts to divert attention from  his own wrongdoing.’

John Houston Scott, an attorney for  Martenson, told the Huffington  Post that he expects the lawsuit to  go to trial in a year’s time.

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