Accountant Disputes Lawsuit Against Michael Jackson
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – A former associate who is suing Michael Jackson made a down payment on his own $1.9 million home with money that he claims went toward business expenses, a forensic accountant hired by the singer's lawyer testified Wednesday.
Jan Goren told jurors that although he traced millions of dollars through the various bank accounts of the former associate, F. Marc Schaffel, he was unable to find records to support some of the expenses Schaffel claims.
Schaffel's lawsuit claims Jackson owes him $1.6 million for various endeavors he worked on for the pop star, but a cross-complaint by Jackson and his companies claims Schaffel owes them money.
Closing arguments in the case were expected to begin later Wednesday.
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Goren challenged Schaffel's claims regarding $400,000 from a Japanese company called Music Fighters that was seeking to buy rights to Jackson's "What More Can I Give," an ill-fated charity recording intended to raise money for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Schaffel had testified that he split the amount with Jackson, each taking $200,000, but maintained that he used his half to pay business expenses.
Goren said that according to his financial detective work, all $400,000 was transferred into Schaffel's personal account, and there is nothing to indicate Jackson received any of the money. The funds went into a money market account Schaffel used to make the house down payment, Goren said.
Goren also disputed Schaffel's earlier testimony that Jackson sent him to Brazil in 2001 to deliver $300,000 to a mysterious "Mr. X" in Argentina, something Jackson denied in a videotaped deposition played to jurors last week.
Goren testified that he has found nothing to corroborate the claim: "There is no check, no moneys leaving a bank ... no bank statements, no ledgers."
On the stand, Schaffel has blurted out that he once was dispatched to help Jackson adopt boys in Brazil. The singer's attorney denounced the story as a smear.
In Jackson's 2005 child molestation trial, prosecutors claimed there was a plan to relocate a family making accusations against the pop star and take them to Brazil. The pop star was acquitted of the molestation charges.
On cross-examination, Schaffel's attorney, Howard King, challenged some of Goren's opinions and asked if he considered testimony by other witnesses who said they knew about some of the disputed transactions.
Jackson, who had been living in Bahrain but last month announced he was moving to Europe, did not testify in person.