August 20, 2013 / 9:06 PM / 6 years ago

Puerto Rico's Doral Bank seeks dismissal of murder-linked lawsuit

SAN JUAN, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Puerto Rico’s Doral Bank is seeking the dismissal of a racketeering and wrongful death lawsuit that accuses its top executives of conspiring to have a former bank official killed after he uncovered fraud at the financial institution.

Calling the lawsuit’s allegations “speculative, implausible, internally inconsistent and legally deficient,” Doral attorneys said in a motion for dismissal that “none of the plaintiffs claims rises above the level of sheer speculation, and for that reason alone they should be dismissed.

“The death and apparent assassination of Maurice Spagnoletti was undeniably tragic. But tragedy does not give rise to a cause of action against anyone and everyone, and it certainly does not give rise to one against these defendants.”

The motion filed on Monday in federal court in San Juan.

Spagnoletti, 56, was shot multiple times in a gangland-style killing while driving home from work to the fashionable Condado beach front district in rush-hour traffic in June 2011. Authorities in the Caribbean territory have described the shooting as an apparent contract killing, but have made no arrests.

Spagnoletti’s family filed the lawsuit in the U.S. commonwealth in June, naming the bank’s chief executive officer and four other high-ranking officials as defendants.

Spagnoletti was chief operating officer at Doral Bank when he uncovered alleged fraudulent accounting and improper payments by the bank, according to the complaint filed by his widow and daughter.

Named in the suit were the bank and its parent Doral Financial Corp, Chief Executive Officer Glenn Wakeman and legal counsel Enrique Ubarri-Baragano, among others.

At the time the suit was filed, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said the FBI was continuing to investigate the Spagnoletti shooting, including the suit’s allegations.

“We have had some leads, but not enough to bring charges. That’s why we have been placing more emphasis on this case. It is very important to us,” she said. “All angles are being investigated ... Nothing is being discarded.”

Spagnoletti received warnings and threats after he sought to have a senior bank employee dismissed for allegedly making hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper payments, the lawsuit said.

Bank attorneys argue that the suit’s central allegations are “utterly lacking in the factual support” needed to make them plausible.

Doral Bank has 26 branches in Puerto Rico, Florida and New York and nearly $6 billion in assets. It is Puerto Rico’s sixth largest bank and second largest mortgage lender.

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