Michael Zolotas, CEO of NewLead Holdings, appears to be unable to produce almost 1,500 emails pertinent to an ongoing court case with commodity trader TransAsia, which is suing the shipping company for breach of contract.
Judge Charles E Ramos of the New York County Supreme Court ordered in early December that Zolotas’ computer hard drive must be handed over to experts with no deletions to undergo forensic analysis. The device was to be searched for around 1,450 emails between Zolotas and his co-defendant Jan Berkowitz that were not produced previously by the NewLead Holdings CEO. Some were sent from Zolotas’ personal Yahoo email address.
But the emails cannot be retrieved because they “do not reside on Mr. Zolotas’s hard drive”, the plaintiff’s counsel wrote in a letter to Judge Ramos, dated Wednesday.
NewLead’s system administrator informed counsel on January 4 that Zolotas uses only a laptop for his work, wrote Melissa Brill, attorney for law firm Cozen O’Connor. Zolotas’ emails and those of other employees are automatically removed from the live email folder on their devices and archived to a Domino server every 30 days, she continued.
TransAsia’s counsel has requested that NewLead grants access to the Domino server in order to retrieve the hard drives upon which Zolotas’ emails are archived. Electronic data discovery specialist Epiq Systems is undertaking the retrieval work.
The defendants have also been requested to provide Epiq with the login details for Zolotas’ Yahoo email account. The deadline for these requests is January 20.
London-based trader TransAsia seeks $6.2m in compensation over a failed agreement to buy 110,000 tonnes of coal from NewLead JMEG, a coal mining joint venture with NewLead Holdings. The coal was never delivered.
The civil case was filed by TransAsia in January 2015 against the defendants NewLead JMEG, its chief executive Jan Berkowitz and Michael Zolotas. Splash has covered the lawsuit extensively.
The plaintiff has alleged that NewLead JMEG signed the multimillion-dollar coal sales agreements to inflate its share price and to obtain credit from banks. The defendants deny the allegations.
In December, the judge ordered NewLead’s claims manager Spyridon Theodoropoulos; investment relations/communications manager Elisa Gerouki and its chief financial officer (CFO) Lena Despotopoulou would be deposed in New York. Today, the plaintiff requested the depositions take place on February 3, 4 and 9 respectively.
“I’m sorry to say that my conclusion is that NewLead is playing a game with the Court,” said Judge Charles E Ramos during a court hearing on December 3. He also alluded to his concerns that the defendant has been deliberately avoiding complying with discovery demands.