Bill Koch, a member of the billionaire Koch brothers family, argued in a court filing this week that he had never held a former top executive of his carbon company against his will.
The claim came in response to a lawsuit filed by Kirby Martensen, former senior vice president of Oxbow Carbon & Minerals International, who in October alleged that Koch had lured him to his secluded Colorado ranch, where agents presumably working for the billionaire energy mogul imprisoned and interrogated him.
According to Bloomberg, Koch's lawyer argues in a recent court filing that Martensen's account provides no proof that he was held on the premises by physical force or that the individuals involved in the incident were actually Koch's employees.
“Rather, the allegations make clear that Martensen is a disgruntled former employee of the Oxbow companies who may have been embarrassed and upset that his corporate wrongdoing was discovered, but who was free at all times to leave,” the filing reads.
In his original lawsuit, Martensen claimed that the two-day episode was sparked by an anonymous letter that had accused Martensen of mismanaging and stealing from Oxbow while serving as the company's vice president. That accusation prompted the company's leadership to read Martensen's letters and emails without his knowledge, the suit charged, which led the company to discover that Martensen had deep reservations about the legality of the company's tax avoidance strategies.
Martensen alleged he was told by his superiors that he was transferred overseas to Asia so that the Koch company could avoid paying U.S. taxes on some $200,000,000 in profits.
While on Koch's property, Martensen claimed that he was interrogated, fired and then guarded by a local sheriff who wouldn't allow him to leave to catch his scheduled flight. Martensen then alleged that a guard who he suspected was armed escorted him home to San Francisco on a private plane from a local airport.
At the time, Brad Goldstein, director of corporate affairs for Oxbow, admitted that the company had investigated Martensen, but argued that it was a warranted response to the then-vice president's alleged misconduct.
“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 said. "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.”
Koch is estimated to be worth around $4 billion and is known, along with his brothers, for his strong financial support for conservative causes. The case, Martensen v. Koch, is being heard in a district court in San Francisco.