A company with links to The Washington Times has sued the newspaper's former chairman for $31 million, accusing him of perpetrating a massive financial fraud one day after he was fired.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 11 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, targets Douglas D.M. Joo, one of three executives let go from the newspaper on Nov. 8 in a headline-grabbing shakeup of its management and editorial staff. According to the complaint, Joo was also fired that day from a second position, as president of a company called Washington Times Aviation.
In its suit, Washington Times Aviation alleges that on Nov. 9, Joo ordered an assistant to transfer $21 million from its accounts to a group known as The Family Mission Foundation for World Peace and Unification. The company, represented by Zuckerman Spaeder partners Steven Salky and Blair Brown, claims the Mission Foundation has since “failed” to return the money.
“At the time of the transfers, Joo had close personal, business, social, and religious relationships with officers and directors of Mission Foundation,” the complaint states.
Both The Washington Times and Washington Times Aviation are part of the business empire of Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myoung Moon. The aviation company is owned by One Up Enterprises and its parent company, Unification Church International, which the Washington Post has described as a holding company for most of Moon’s U.S. operations. The Washington Times, meanwhile, is held by a company called News World Communications, which is chaired by Moon’s son, Preston Moon.
According to its web site, The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification “was founded in 1997 by Reverend and Mrs. Moon in order to expand the mission of the Unification Church.” The lawsuit does not explain whether or how the Mission Foundation is officially connected with that group. A call to the Family Federation’s headquarters in New York was returned by someone who said they were not an official with the organization, and could not be quoted. Washington Times Aviation’s lawyers did not return several calls or an e-mail requesting comment. The company is seeking $21 million in compensatory damages, as well as $10 million in punitive damages.