Jailed Grey Global Exec Claims He Was Framed by Agency

24 May 2006

Former chief print buyer at Grey Global Group, Mitch Mosallem, currently languishing in a Brooklyn prison for accepting bribes in return for print contracts, has sued Grey claiming not only that the agency wrongly framed him for the scandal but was also involved in malfeasance at its London office.

Opening arguments in the civil case were heard on Tuesday at the State Supreme Court in New York where Mossalem is claiming $4 million (€3.11m; £2.12m) in damages. Grey's lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss the suit.

In addition to filing a legal suit, Mossalem has also written to Sir Martin Sorrell, ceo of WPP Group which now owns the Grey businesses.

The letter claims that Mossalem can release "close to twenty boxes of records, memos, computer printouts and other information conclusively proving that Grey, Grey senior management and others shared my guilt and in several instances took leadership roles in the crimes I have been convicted of."

He also tells Sorrell: "You can rest assured that I will not desist until an equitable distribution of justice has been made in this affair, either through the courts or through the press or both."

Those named in Mossalem's suit were at the pinnacle of the Grey hierarchy prior to its acquisition by WPP: chairman Ed Meyer, chief financial officer Steven Felsher and former vice chairman/general manager Bob Berenson. "It is our company policy to never comment on pending litigation," said a Grey spokesperson.

Mosallem's specific legal claims are that Grey withheld documents from federal investigators' subpoenas when he was being investigated; that Grey prejudiced his joint defense agreement with the agency by communicating to federal investigators information he had told Grey's lawyers in confidence; and that Grey falsely overstated Mosallem's role in the scandal.

His suit also refers to alleged malfeasance at Grey London, naming Swindon, Wiltshire-based printer Wace. According to Mossalem, in the early 1990s Wace sent a proposal to Roger Edwards, Grey London's managing director/group chairman.

"[This] was for a global arrangement involving kick-backs, bid-rigging, discounts and client overbilling in the form of cash, free work and other benefits to both Wace and Grey." The suit states that the Wace proposal later became the subject of memos between Meyer, Berenson and Felsher.

Edwards "proceeded with the proposals set forth by Wace," claims Mosallem's suit, adding that "Grey did not, however, reveal the extent of the corporate discounts and rebates it received that were not passed on to its clients."

Edwards reportedly left Grey in 1999. He could not be reached for comment last week.

Grey's defense document submits that by pleading guilty Mosallem was the arbiter of his own fate and that therefore as a matter of law he may not profit from his conviction.

The case continues.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff