Al Jazeera reportedly refused to turn over 'tens of millions of dollars' in escrow after they agreed to pay $500 million for the network last year.
Al Gore is suing Al Jazeera over Current TV deal. Al Jazeera agreed to buy the network for $500 million in early 2013 and then relaunched it as Al Jazeera America in August the same year. Now, the former vice president of the U.S. and Current TV co-owner Joel Hyatt accuse Al Jazeera of fraud and breach of contract.
David Boies, the attorney who represents Gore, says in a statement, "Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago. We are asking the court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current's former shareholders."
Boies explains that the lawsuit centers on Al Jazeera's refusal to turn over "tens of millions of dollars" currently in escrow owed to the selling shareholders of Current TV.
The lawsuit, filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery, is under seal at the request of Al Jazeera, but Gore's camp has filed a motion to unseal it. "We do not believe that our complaint should be sealed," Boies says. "However, despite being a news organization, Al Jazeera America has said that the full complaint should be kept from the public file. We have therefore filed the complaint under seal until the court can resolve this issue. We expect that the court will reject Al Jazeera America's argument."
Dawn Bridges, an Al Jazeera America spokeswoman, says that the network's outside counsel is reviewing the complaint. "We think it relates to a commercial dispute between former shareholders of Current Media and Al Jazeera America. We may have further comment once they've fully reviewed everything," she states.
Al Jazeera America, owned by the Qatar-royal family's Al Jazeera Media Network, has been struggling in ratings, averaging about 17,000 viewers during primetime since the beginning of 2014 through the end of May, according to Nielsen.