Citi seeks juror dismissal in Terra Firma case

* Citi lawyer cites juror credit in anti-capitalism film

* Asks judge to remove juror from trial over EMI dispute

By Grant McCool

NEW YORK, Nov 2 (BestGrowthStock) – Citigroup Inc (C.N: ), fighting a
high stakes multibillion-dollar civil fraud claim by Terra
Firma private equity firm, sought the dismissal of a juror on
Tuesday, citing her name in credits for filmmaker Michael
Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story.”

The bank’s trial lawyer, Ted Wells, displayed on a screen
in Manhattan federal court the “special thanks” the juror
received in the credits for Moore’s 2009 documentary in which
he rails against banks and U.S. capitalism in general.

Terra Firma sued the bank, which was bailed out with
taxpayer money in the financial crisis, accusing it of fraud in
the May 2007 bidding process for storied music company EMI. The
private equity firm bought EMI for 4 billion pounds ($6.4
billion). Citigroup provided 2.6 billion pounds ($4 billion) in
loans for the acquisition.

Wells played a four-minute long clip in court while the
jurors were out of the room. The juror’s role on the movie set
was not described.

But two names shown in the film credits highlighted by the
lawyer in court are apparently the names of a husband-and-wife
New York balloon twister company that sends performers to
events. The juror’s name is a combination of those two names.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff convened with lawyers for
both sides over the matter, while the nine jurors were on
breaks. The judge did not make an immediate decision on
Citigroup’s request to remove the juror.

Rakoff has effectively reduced the potential damages
against the bank to about 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion),
representatives of both sides said.

Describing the dispute “as a cat fight between two rich
companies” at a hearing on Monday night, the judge ruled
punitive damages should not be considered by the jury in its
deliberations. [ID:nN01181242]

The ill-fated purchase of EMI has become a symbol of some
of the worst aspects of the credit boom and bust.

The trial, which started on Oct. 18 and is expected to end
this week, centers on the word of Terra Firma founder Guy
Hands, 51, and his onetime Citigroup banker friend David
Wormsley, 50.

Hands has testified he made a high bid of 265 pence per
share for EMI only because the banker and friend he trusted
lied to him about a rival offer from Cerberus Capital
Management LP at 262 pence per share that he had to beat. The
Cerberus bid turned out to be nonexistent
.

During his testimony, Wormsley denied misleading or lying
to Hands. If the jury decided Terra Firma had been defrauded,
Citigroup’s reputation for facilitating mergers and
acquisitions could suffer, while the banking industry (Read more about the banking industry recovery.) is still
trying to recover from its near collapse in 2008.

EMI is sagging under the weight of its debt and problems in
the music business. If Terra Firma loses at trial, it could be
forced to hand over EMI to Citigroup, the music company’s main
creditor.

The case is Terra Firma et al v Citigroup et al, U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of New York, No.
09-10459.
($1 = 0.623196 pound)
(Reporting by Grant McCool; editing by Andre Grenon)

Citi seeks juror dismissal in Terra Firma case