News & Politics

Lawsuit Alleges Right-Wing Billionaire William Koch Kidnapped, Imprisoned a Former Executive

Kirby Martensen has filed suit in federal court against a Koch brother over the allegations.

A former executive of a number of Koch subsidiaries is suing William Koch over allegations that he was lured to a secluded area where he was held against his will and interrogated.

Kirby Martensen, the former executive, has filed the suit in federal court in San Francisco.

William Koch, along with his better known brothers Dave and Charles, are wealthy energy magnates who have poured millions of dollars to support Mitt Romney’s election effort. AlterNet's Adele Stan reported yesterday on how Koch Industries recently sent a letter to employees "that warns of dire consequences should readers elect the wrong candidate. Accompanying the letter, on a separate page, is a checklist of Koch-endorsed candidates."

Martensen was the vice president of Oxbow Carbon & Minerals International, two companies owned and controlled by William Koch. Martenson claims that an anonymous letter accused him of mismanaging and stealing from the two companies he was vice president of. After the letter was sent, Oxbow read “Martensen's letters and emails without his knowledge, the suit charges, which led the company to discover that Martensen had deep reservations about the legality of the company's tax avoidance strategies,” the Huffington Post reports.

“Martensen had a flight booked from Aspen, but was not permitted to travel to the airport, he claims, as a local sheriff worked with Koch's employees to ‘make sure you don't wander off,’” the Huffington Post reports. “He says he was subjected to a several-hour interrogation, fired, held against his will on the property, then forced to fly in a private plane to San Francisco, accompanied by a man he believed to be armed.”

The interrogation allegedly took place at Koch’s Bear Ranch in Colorado.

In a statement, the director of corporate affairs for Oxbow confirmed that the company “investigated him for participating in a wide-ranging scheme to defraud, accepting bribes and diverting business from our company.” In March, according to the Denver Post, “Oxbow company sued Martensen and two other Oxbow employees...accusing them of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to misappropriate revenues. The suit accuses the former employees of accepting bribes, kickbacks and payments from competitors.”

As the blogger Digby notes, “some people might call this kidnapping, but billionaires don't have to adhere to such trivialities.” Perhaps, Digby suggests, the reason why the complaint is not a criminal one is because it is futile to try and go after one of the wealthiest men on the planet.

“To the billionaires, their employees are peasants, subject to their Lord's whims. The ‘law of the land’ is to keep them in line. The nobles are not subject to it.”

Digby also writes that “it does not appear they are disputing the kidnapping. They seem to be going with the defense that he was a bad man and so deserved it.”

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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