Redstone Clan Gang-Up On Patriarch in 'Bilking' Case

22 November 2006

NEW YORK: "I am a Millionaire. That is my religion," proclaimed Andrew Undershaft in Shaw's 'Major Barbara'. Octogenarian autocrat Sumner M Redstone, executive chairman both of Viacom and CBS, is of like persuasion according to litigiously inclined members of his family.

Earlier this year Redstone's son Brent filed suit against his father seeking to gain direct control of his [Brent's] personal stake in the family business empire.

Now another sprig of the fecund Redstone tribe, Michael, has filed a suit alleging that uncle Sumner and father Edward engaged in "self-dealing, breaches of fiduciary duty" and "unjust enrichment as trustees of certain Redstone family trusts".

Michael alleges this took place in 1972 and 1984 when they bought his stake and that of other Redstone heirs in National Amusements, the company through which the family controls its various enterprises.

His suit is joined by the trustees for trusts representing his late sister Ruth Ann and a trust set up for the four children of Edward Redstone and Sumner Redstone - Michael, Ruth Ann, Brent and Shari.

The plaintiffs are asking for those 1972 and 1984 transactions to be rescinded or for damages "in an amount equal to the present value of those shares."

National Amusements called the allegations "baseless" and said it would defend itself vigorously. The spin then kicked-in, depicting Sumner as a saintly saviour to an ungrateful nephew.

"Mr Redstone essentially rescued Michael from a difficult family environment, removed him from a mental institution, paid for his education and gave him a job at NA. It is unfortunate that this is how Michael has chosen to repay Sumner Redstone's care and generosity."

All of which is newsworthy only in that it raises further question-marks over the durability of Sumner Redstone's hold on Viacom and CBS, both of which are controlled by the Redstone family.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff