A Florida court has relieved Omar Romay of his duties as CEO of joint venture América CV and appointed a receiver to take over América TeVe operations in the midst of accusations of conflicts of interest and financial wrongdoing.
In a lawsuit filed by Caribevisión Holdings, Inc., Romay is accused of mishandling funds, giving the JV unauthorized, undocumented loans of $5 million, excluding shareholders from meetings and appointing his wife, son and two daughters to the board of directors.
The Court appointed Pedro Roig, an attorney and former Director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting – Radio & TV Marti, to manage and operate the business of the JV until the legal problems are resolved.
According to court documents, as receiver, Roig will be able to hire and fire personnel and execute agreements and sales of the Receivership property.
While Romay cannot run the JV or handle any financials, the Court has stipulated that he can continue to be responsible for programming and production.
At play is $130 million dollars – the estimated price tag for the sale of bandwidth if the JV’s four Puerto Rico stations are sold to the FCC in the broadcast TV spectrum auction scheduled to take place in 2016.
Romay’s Sherjan Broadcasting and the owners of CaribeVisión Network, which include Barba TV Group and Pegaso Television, agreed to the creation of a 50-50 JV by merging their broadcast television stations in 2009.
At the time of the agreement, both parties had to contribute $17.5 million in assets or equity. Caribevisión contributed 4 television stations in Puerto Rico.
Romay was named CEO of the JV. But disagreements between the parties started shortly after, and according to court documents, Romay denied access to CaribeVisión shareholders to board meetings, shutting them out of the operations of the JV.
In 2011, the CaribeVisión group filed a complaint seeking damages against Romay and in 2013 moved to dissolve the venture. At that time, Caribevisión requested the Court appoint a receiver. The request was rejected.
But the dispute continued to escalate and Romay allegedly ignored previous court orders regarding financial transparency.
CaribeVisión contends that Romay has purposely indebted the JV to himself and provoked multi-million dollar losses, effectively “running the JV into the ground.”
With a heavy debt load in his favor, Romay has testified he “unilaterally fully intends on selling, at auction, the entire bandwidth” of the 4 Puerto Rico stations to pay off all debt.
In December of 2014, CaribeVisión filed a renewed motion requesting a receiver to step in. Judge Monica Gordo granted CaribeVisión’s request in April of this year.
A source says Roig met with América TeVé staff on Monday, June 1 and has effectively taken over the managing role of the company.
Roig refused to comment on this story. An executive from CaribeVisión’s group also did not want to comment.
According to an article in El Nuevo Herald, Roig said a trial is set for October, but that he could step down as the JV’s receiver sooner if both parties settle out of court.