Garnett sues former accountant in latest legal battle tied to Duncan’s ex-financial manager
Retired NBA star Kevin Garnett is suing his former accountant for $77 million, claiming he was complicit with a wealth manager who for years looted Garnett’s earnings — the same financial manager sent to federal prison for defrauding San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan out of millions of dollars in an investment scheme.
The details came in a lawsuit moved this week from state court to federal court in Minnesota by Welenken CPAs and accountant Michael A. Wertheim, the defendants in Garnett’s suit.
In the court documents, Welenken and Wertheim deny the allegations.
“This case involves the Defendants’ complicity in enormous financial losses at the hands of (Garnett’s) long-term trusted wealth manager, confidant and personal friend, Charles A. Banks IV,” Garnett’s suit said.
The suit said Garnett learned of the losses after Banks was sentenced to four years in federal prison in San Antonio in June 2017 for defrauding more than $7 million from Duncan.
Garnett, in fact, sat in Banks’ corner during the sentencing in federal court in San Antonio.
Garnett’s suit said that in August 2017, his lawyers got hold of records from Welenken and Wertheim, who had provided nearly all accounting services for Banks, Garnett and all business Garnett had with Banks.
“What became clear, after gaining access to Welenken’s records, is that Banks intentionally and continuously looted Garnett of his earnings and assets for many years, including the many years that Welenken and Wertheim provided accounting services to Garnett and his business interests,” the suit said.
The suit said Garnett discovered Banks pilfered the earnings through an investment holding company called Hammer Holdings LLC, which both Garnett and Banks were supposed to be equal partners in.
During its investigation, the FBI in San Antonio found that Hammer Holdings was a vehicle that Banks used to funnel money through and used in investments that were detrimental to Duncan. Some of those details came out in testimony at Banks’ sentencing before U.S. District Judge Fred Biery in San Antonio.
After listening to the testimony, Garnett appeared concerned, and an Express-News reporter observed during a break Duncan offer Garnett what appeared to be a warning about Banks. Although Duncan and Garnett had been rivals on the basketball court, Duncan also shook Garnett’s hand during the break as a sort of peace offering.
The suit said Garnett later learned that Banks had helped himself to millions of dollars from Hammer, while contributing a mere fraction of what Garnett had put into Hammer.
The federal suit does not name Banks as a defendant.
But records show Banks is being sued by Hammer Holdings in Hennepin County in Minnesota.
Judge Biery sentenced Banks to four years in prison after Banks pleaded guilty to wire fraud and admitted defrauding $7.5 million from Duncan in a loan-investment deal involving a now-defunct sports-merchandising company.
Duncan had sued Banks in both San Antonio and Denver, alleging he lost more than $20 million in various investments with Banks. The former Spurs star settled his cases after Banks paid him $7.5 million in restitution in the criminal case. Duncan’s lawyers said they did not pursue the other civil claims because they believed Banks had no more money.
In mid-July of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the prison sentence that Biery gave Banks, rejecting Banks’ appeal that it was improperly calculated.
Banks is serving his sentence at a federal prison camp at Maxwell AFB in Alabama. His scheduled release date is Feb. 27, 2021.
Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @gmaninfedland