A family struggle for control got considerably uglier when Frank Stronach, founder and honorary chairman of Stronach Group, filed suit against daughter Belinda Stronach, chairman and president, alleging she has mismanaged the family assets and trust funds and pushed him out of any control of the company.
Santa Anita and five other racetracks are among the company’s assets.
The 73-page suit was filed Oct. 1 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. The contents of the suit were first reported by the Thoroughbred Daily News.
Frank Stronach, 86, alleges that Belinda Stronach, 52, along with Alon Ossip, chief executive of the company, purposely kept information from Frank, ignored his wishes, and conducted “covert and unlawful actions” that were to the detriment of the company.
In addition, the suit alleges that Belinda hired unqualified friends at high salaries and submitted fraudulent statements claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses for herself and her children.
The statements allegedly included personal expenses related to parties, vacations, limousine rides and expensive meals that were charged to the company.
Frank’s wife, Elfriede, is a co-plaintiff. Belinda’s children, Nicole and Frank Walker, are co-defendants along with Belinda and Ossip.
The suit lists 39 demands for relief that include:
$250 million (Canadian) in compensation as the result of “unlawful or oppressive conduct.”
$250 million in damages for “breach of fiduciary duty” in addition to unlawful conspiracy.
$20 million in punitive action.
Belinda and Ossip be removed as corporate officers and trustee positions.
An attorney for Frank did not respond to a message from The Times.
Belinda issued this statement: “Family relationships within a business can be challenging. My children and I love my father. However, his allegations are untrue and we will be responding formally to the statement of claim in the normal course of the court process.”
Paul Deegan, a spokesman for Ossip, called the allegations “baseless and are not grounded in fact or reality. Alon has always honored his obligations and acted in good faith to preserve and grow the Stronach family’s assets and to protect the interests of all members of the family.”
Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of Stronach Group who runs all the racetracks, including Santa Anita, is not named, implicated or involved in the suit.
“We have no comment as it’s a family matter,” Ritvo said. “Operations at Santa Anita will be business as usual. Things are going good.”
Ritvo added that he has respect for Frank and Belinda.
Belinda and Ossip have until about the end of the month to file a response.