Rihanna sues ex-accountants, says she lost millions

Thu Jul 5, 2012 7:15pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pop star Rihanna has sued her former accountants for mismanaging the singer's finances, including claiming they earned huge commissions from concert tours that resulted in her losing millions of dollars.

In a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court that surfaced on Thursday, the 24-year-old singer and her tour company, Tourihanna, is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory damages and loss of earnings from accountancy firm Berdon LLP and former employees Michael Mitnick and Peter Gounis.

The suit, first filed late in Tuesday ahead of the July 4 U.S. holiday, claims the accounting firm caused "significant financial losses" between 2005 and 2010 by charging "exorbitant" commissions from Rihanna's 2010 "Last Girl on Earth Tour." It also accuses Berdon of mishandling Rihanna's foreign and domestic taxes and failing to monitor unpaid song royalties.

"Between 2005 and 2010, Tourihanna suffered significant losses due to defendants' financial mismanagement and other acts and omissions," the lawsuit said.

Ron Storch, a partner at Berdon, said the company could not comment on pending litigation. Mitnick and Gounis have since left the firm and could not be reached for comment.

Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Fenty, has produced a string of worldwide hits including "Umbrella" and "We Found Love." She is referred to in the suit as a financial novice who found fame at a young age and relied heavily on her accountants.

Her music management introduced her to Berdon in 2005 when she was a 16-year-old and "a minor with a booming music career and no knowledge or understanding of financial matters whatsoever."

The lawsuit said the accountants concealed facts regarding her finances and, in a deal Rihanna's lawyers called unusual, earned commissions based on a percentage of Rihanna's gross receipts that were "exorbitant and expensive."   Continued...

Rihanna goes into the crowd during a performance at the Hackney Weekend festival at Hackney Marshes in east London, June 24, 2012. REUTERS/Olivia Harris