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