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Dentons and Boies Schiller face $300M racketeering suit after client loses international arbitration

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A Massachusetts businessman has filed a $300 million racketeering lawsuit against Dentons and Boies Schiller Flexner. (Image from Shutterstock)

A Massachusetts businessman has filed a $300 million racketeering lawsuit against Dentons and Boies Schiller Flexner alleging that the law firms failed to inform him that his contract to develop a power plant in Senegal, a country in West Africa, was invalid.

Plaintiffs Frank Anton Corsini and two of his companies allege in the April 26 suit that the October 2012 power purchase agreement signed by a representative of Senegal’s energy supplier Senelec was invalid because Senelec’s board never approved it.

Dentons and Boies Schiller ignored “red flags” that the agreement was invalid, the suit alleges, because of the firms’ “scheme to generate millions of dollars in fees and seize controlling interests” in Corsini’s two companies.

Law360, Reuters and Bloomberg Law have coverage of the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In addition to RICO violations, the suit alleges fraud, civil conspiracy and unjust enrichment.

Corsini hired Dentons in 2012 to provide legal advice on his plan to provide power to Senegal. The firm represented Corsini in his negotiations with Senelec and the drafting of the contract.

Corsini alleges that Dentons failed to hire Sengalese lawyers and used a negotiating attorney with no ability to read the French language, which was the governing language of the power purchase agreement.

Dentons ended its representation of Corsini by November 2013 after claiming that he owed $1.9 million in fees.

Boies Schiller began to represent Corsini’s companies in September 2015 in preparation for a future international arbitration against Senelec. During that time, Corsini alleges, Boies Schiller failed to verify whether his contract was valid.

An arbitration panel found that the document was invalid in May 2020 and awarded Senelec $1.22 million in costs.

Boies Schiller obtained third-party funding for the arbitration in exchange for part of its contingency fee, the suit says.

A funding agreement provided several mechanisms by which Dentons would be paid its claimed $1.9 million in fees in exchange for its cooperation in the arbitration, the suit says.

The agreement allowed Dentons to pursue collection of the fees if Corsini’s companies did not win the arbitration. It also required Corsini and his companies to indemnify the firms, according to the suit.

During the arbitration, Corsini alleges, he was pressured “to testify in a certain manner” regarding damages in Boies Schiller’s bid to obtain a $250 million arbitration award.

Corsini alleges that the firms and several attorneys violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by seeking to present false testimony about the invalid contract to the arbitration tribunal, by intimidating Corsini as a witness, and by gaining economic advantage through a litigation funding arrangement.

A Boies Schiller spokesperson told Reuters, Law360 and Bloomberg Law that the suit is without merit.

“Once all the facts are made known in this case, we are confident that it will be resolved quickly,” the spokesperson said.

A Dentons spokesperson did not immediately reply to the ABA Journal’s email requesting comment.

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