The opinion of the court was delivered by: Motley, District Judge.
OPINION GRANTING SUMMARY
Plaintiff Diamantis Giannacopoulos alleges that misrepresentations by
defendant Robert E. Menasche, an officer of defendant Credit Suisse,
induced him to provide financial backing for an ill-fated Nigerian oil
venture. The defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing that
there is insufficient evidence for the fraud and negligence claims and
that the negligence claims are time-barred. For the below reasons, the
summary judgment motion is granted and the case is dismissed.
Plaintiff Diamantis Giannacopoulos is a financier residing in Greece.
Defendant Credit Suisse is a bank under the laws of New York and
defendant Robert E. Menasche is a vice-president of Credit Suisse in New
York. The link between the parties is that Mr. Giannacopoulos and Mr.
Menasche each played a role in helping a proposed Nigerian oil venture
procure financial backing. The failure of that venture led to this dispute
about Mr. Menasche's role in Mr. Giannacopoulos's decision to support the
On November 30, 1992, Mr. Menasche assisted Way Refining-Ergis
Intercambio Commercial y Industrial Oil Division ("Way" and "Ergis"), a
joint venture of Way and Ergis, by writing a "letter of introduction" to
potential financial backers of a proposed Way-Ergis oil venture in
Nigeria. The letter read as follows on Mr. Menasche's Credit Suisse
It is hereby a pleasure to introduce our dear friends
and substantial clients, Way Refining - Ergis
Intercambio Comercial y Industrial Oil Division.
Both companies recently joined together for the
purpose of lifting and processing crude oil for the
Ergis Oil Division is managed by Sheikh Faysal el Azem
and Way Refining by David Fraser. Both have extensive
knowledge in the crude oil industry with excellent
experience of operating their business in a profitable
way in the eight figures and more. We envision this
joint operation with great prosperity for future
liftings and processing of crude oil and we highly
recommend Way - Ergis Oil Division.
The character of the above two gentlemen are without
[siguature of "B. Menasche"]
Joint Pre-Trial Order ("JPTO"), Ex. 1. After the proposed Way-Ergis joint
venture fell through in December 1992, Ergis continued to pursue the
Nigerian oil venture without Way. In January 1993, Ergis reached
agreement with two other companies, Interfina Limited ("Interfina") and
Petraco Oil Company Limited ("Petraco"). Interfina brokered the deal in
which Ergis would lift the oil from Nigeria for eventual sale by
Petraco. Later that month, the deal was in jeopardy when Ergis and
Interfina each breached a contractual obligation to issue a $300,000
performance bond. See JPTO at 2-3.
Jonathan Clegg, a British solicitor representing Petraco, enlisted Mr.
Giannacopoulos, whom he knew as a wealthy businessman, to provide the
$300,000 performance bond for Interfina. The bond was in place for the
four weeks ending March 31, 1993. In exchange, Mr. Giannacopoulos
received a $125,000 fee and an Ergis corporate guaranty indemnifying him
for the $300,000 risk. Mr. Giannacopoulos never spoke with any parties to
the venture, nor anyone at Credit Suisse, but reviewed the
Interfina-Petraco contract, the Petraco letter of credit, and various
Ergis documents: a corporate brochure; financial statements for a
one-year period ending in April 1992; documents reflecting Ergis's
efforts to lift the ...