Betting giant sued for €14 million damages

Greek businessman in Maltese courts claims betting company Tipico forged clauses in franchising contract

Tipico has rebutted Chadborn’s allegations of unjustified enrichment, saying they were unfounded at law and in fact
Tipico has rebutted Chadborn’s allegations of unjustified enrichment, saying they were unfounded at law and in fact

A Greek businessman has taken betting giant Tipico to court for allegedly forging clauses in a contract with a franchise partner.

Antonios Stampolidis, representing the BVI-registered Chadborn Holdings, which owns 10 Tipico shops in Austria as a franchise partner, has asked the police to investigate the alleged forgery.

In the civil courts, he had sued Tipico Co Ltd and its German former director Oliver Voigt for damages in the region of €14 million.

In his sworn court application, Stampolidis alleged that Tipico had terminated the agreement without a valid reason at law, causing damages and a loss of profits amounting to millions, and he asked the court to declare that the franchise agreement had been terminated “illegally and abusively.”

In an affidavit, Stampolidis explained that at the end of 2012 there was a “huge conflict” between him and Tipico based on a franchise agreement that was being negotiated. He had gone to Frankfurt to meet Tipico’s marketing director in Germany, Stefan Meurer, and eventually reached an agreement. “I went back and was quite satisfied,” he said.

Through Meurer, Tipico granted Stampolidis the right to open two new shops in Austria and had sent him a new contract to sign, he said. “But when the agreement was eventually received by me, I was very surprised because there was nothing to be found of what we had agreed,” reads the affidavit. So Stampolidis had sent an email, deleting the paragraphs which he disagreed with, later also faxing and posting the signed amended draft to Malta for Tipico’s signature.

But Tipico then sent back the original contract, he said, this time with his signature and signed by Oliver Voigt, on behalf of Tipico. “The pages where I had deleted the sentences were exchanged. A complete line was actually added in one of the paragraphs,” he said. All the pages that were exchanged showed the Tipico logo in dark black, but in the pages that were kept the logo is very faint, said Stampolidis.

In the affidavit, Stampolidis claims that they had asked him to sign and fax the contract to them in order to cover the “really obvious” colour difference in the logos used in the original and forged contracts.

“They did not like that I sent them a contract with deleted sentences. So, with their logic, they kept my signature and in all the parts where I deleted because I did not agree they changed them in order for the contract to suit them and only them,” Stampolidis alleged.

The company’s legal department was trying to cover up the forgery by attempting to force him to sign various new contracts, he claimed.
Another former Tipico director, Hans Wolfram Kessler, had directly threatened to stop the acceptance of bets in Stampolidis’s shops and that he would be forced to close them, he says. “That is a clear attempt at covering up the forgery,” alleged Stampolidis.

In September 2013, Kessler had forwarded another new contract to Stampolidis, mentioning that because there were amended clauses in the faxed contract, it was not being acknowledged by Tipico.

In their reply to one of the civil lawsuits filed by Chadborn, Tipico had pointed out that both Kessler’s and Voigt’s roles as directors had ceased three years prior to the case being filed. “These things do not subsequently come to the knowledge of the parties. They are there to see and consult online and physically at the registry of companies.”

Tipico said the way the contractual relationship between the parties had come to an end was “completely different to that reported by the sworn application and it is absolutely not true that the defendant company breached contractual dispositions in some way.”

It also rebutted Chadborn’s allegations of unjustified enrichment, saying they were unfounded at law and in fact. It was not true that Tipico was enjoying benefits as a result of the work done by Chadborn Holdings Limited, said the defendant, adding that “if anything, damages were caused to it by its association with Chadborn.”

It denied being the subject of any investigation by law enforcement or regulatory authorities and objected to the production of police witnesses. “Firstly, the plaintiff fails to indicate the nature of the alleged investigation or who carried out the so-called ‘investigation’. Secondly, the defendant company is absolutely not aware of any alleged investigation in its regard and has never in the past been subject to any for any wrongdoing by any enforcement or regulatory authority.”

It opposed a request for additional witnesses to be allowed to the plaintiff, reminding it that its claim is based on an alleged wrongful termination of an agency contract and accused it of “literally trying to throw the book, hoping something will stick.”

Lawyer Rachel Tua is appearing for Stampolidis and Chadborn. Lawyers George Antoine Cremona, Simon Schembri and Rachel Genovese are defending Tipico.

The case continues.