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Norwegian Cruise Line is accusing its former chief executive — and the man once credited with turning around the company — of abusing his power and of engaging in deceit, fraud and sexual misconduct. The accusations by the world’s fourth-largest cruise line were made in a 78-page document filed last week in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. They come six months after the former chief executive, Geir Aune, filed a lawsuit alleging he was unjustly fired and was owed $2 million in back pay. The documents filed by the cruise line deny that Aune is owed anything and seek unspecified damages and attorney fees. The allegations, says Aune’s attorney, Kevin Love, are little more than a witch hunt “designed to dissuade Aune from pursuing his case against his former employer and embarrass him in the press.” Aune filed suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court claiming that Norwegian, which has its corporate offices in Miami, breached Aune’s contract by failing to pay him his severance package. Aune, who is now chief executive of oil company Det Sondenfjelds-Norske, contends he was ousted after Star Cruises took over Norwegian Cruise Line’s parent, Oslo-based NCL Holdings ASA, this year. Norwegian contends Aune was not fired, but that his title was changed to executive vice president and that on numerous occasions he held himself out as such. But it was what Aune allegedly did while president of NCL that has resulted in the stinging allegations laid out in the counterclaim that NCL now has filed against Aune. Among the allegations: � Aune engaged in a “scheme” to defraud investors by launching “a reckless strategy designed to secure a higher price for his and other directors’ shares” during a proxy battle. While the effort failed, the suit claims Aune’s actions cost NCL more than $2 million in advisory fees as well as $20 million in lost bookings, the result of uncertainty in the market over NCL’s ownership and financial standing. � On Feb. 4, the day he was to be replaced as CEO, Aune allegedly changed the terms of his and other top NCL’s executive’s employment agreements giving all involved a hefty golden parachute. “Aune’s clear intent was to force the new NCL management to pay more of NCL’s money to these executives, many of whom were likely to be terminated by the new management,” according to the suit. � Aune worked full time in the United States, without declaring income to the Internal Revenue Service or to Norwegian tax authorities, the suit claims. � Though he was a Norwegian citizen, the suit claims he remained illegally in this country working without a proper visa. “Aune was strongly advised on numerous occasions by senior executives of NCL to rectify his status,” the suit claims. � Aune allegedly made false and misleading statements as to the company’s profitability in 1999. The suit claims he said NCL was showing a profit, when in fact the company’s earnings showed a considerable loss. � In March, Aune boarded a Norwegian ship in St. Thomas and during the course of his voyage allegedly got drunk and assaulted a 21-year-old woman. The allegation, his attorney says, is “indicative of the type of allegations throughout the complaint, when one considers that NCL is very aware of the fact that, after the incident, its own security officer wrote up a report that found no evidence of any indecent assault.” � Aune refused to terminate the head of the company’s Marine Operations Department, who had allegedly been engaged in mismanagement “resulting in the failure of NCL to comply with, and correct, environmental violations, such failure having only come to light following the installation of NCL’s new administration and board of directors.” Indeed, in July, Star management admitted that their newly acquired subsidiary had committed numerous environmental violations aboard several of its ships, which triggered an investigation by federal authorities. Though he declined to comment on the other specific allegations, Love said, “We are confident that after the discovery phase and resolution of this action, we will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that what they say in their counterclaim is not true.” The incidents are alleged to have occurred prior to NCL being acquired, and only were fully investigated after Star took over, according to the suit. Within three months of the investigation, Aune was ousted. “What’s so suspicious about all of these claims is that almost all of the allegations for this termination occurred way before Star ever came on board,” Love said. “They only took on importance after Star needed a reason to terminate Geir,” he added. Love contends that his client’s original suit was simply a breach of contract action and that he had been more than willing to settle it quietly. “Instead of responding to Geir’s claim, Star took the opportunity to first terminate Geir in May and then spend the next five or so months trying to dig up as many reasons for that termination as possible,” Love said. Though many of the allegations also appear to implicate NCL and its former executives, neither Love, nor NCL’s attorney, Curtis Mase, would comment. Mase said it was the company’s policy not to comment on pending litigation. “Our position is well set out in the counterclaim,” Mase said.

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