Guma Aguiar’s mom and wife will meet in court today to argue over who will get control of his $100 million estate after he disappeared at sea last Tuesday, but headstrong women might not have been all he was running from.
A day before he disappeared, a federal judge in another case was preparing to hand over his mental health records to the plaintiffs accusing him of reckless fraud. Given his troubled past, this might have been a bonanza for the lawyers trying to prove he was incompetent and irresponsible at running a company.
In 2003, Aguiar met with a Texas geologist who tipped him off to areas that might contain a valuable new type of sand containing natural gas deposits. Aguiar brought in his uncle Tom Kaplan, who had introduced the formerly clueless Aguiar into the energy business. Seeing dollar signs, Kaplan gave Aguiar a 50% stake in the operation. The geologist was right, and the wells were insanely productive.
But, the lawsuit says, Aguiar started spending irresponsibly and funneling the windfall he administrated to his family members and buddies. After Leor sold its assets to other energy companies in 2007, the complaint says, Aguiar used remaining money in the trust to hire a personal bodyguard named Aviad Shemesh fo $175,000 a year plus a $100k bonus.
The suit also claims Aguiar retained an employee for undisclosed “personal services;” hired his brother-in-law for a hundred grand to do nothing and move to Israel; removed computer screens and TVs from the company office; and charged “very substantial” travel and leisure expenses to a company card. He also funneled money to his sister and paid his wife $100 grand as a “consulting fee,” the suit says, “in a campaign to extract as much cash as he could.”
The suit references the suit in state court in which Aguiar is accused of diverting funds from a charitable association to fund his “messianic mission.”
This is the case that was dragging on for years against Aguiar, and his troubled mental state, including commitment in Tel Aviv in 2009, hasn’t been helping his defense. Plaintiffs portray him as erratic. At the time he disappeared in his boat in choppy waters, a judge had just appointed a medical examiner to find out if he was fit to move ahead with the case, and had ordered his past therapist to hand over sensitive personal records to the new guy.
Plaintiffs had also asked in court on Monday, June 18, to have access to his private medical records as part of the discovery process. The judge instructed them to get an official motion together over the next week, and it appears they were prepared to do so. In the midst of this, Aguiar set out into the ocean.
After the disappearance, Aguiar’s lawyers moved to put a hold on the federal court proceedings, citing his mother’s motion in state court to administer his assets in case he turns up dead. The lawyers want to continue with the case once a conservator is appointed for Aguiar’s money and pending more information on whether he’s alive.
The complaint in the federal case is below, and provides a detailed account of how Aguiar fell into his most recent fortune, which fueled his worldwide philanthropy as well as domestic squabbles.
Guma Aguiar’s Mental Health Records Were Requested in Federal Court a Day Before He Vanished
June 28, 2012
New Times Broward-Palm Beach