Aegean Marine Petroleum Network founder Dimitris Melissanidis and its former chief financial officer have reached an agreement to settle claims in long-running securities fraud and insider trading litigation in New York.
Lawyers for Utah Retirement Systems, the investor in the marine fuel supplier that is serving as lead plaintiff in the case, said in court records that Melissanidis and finance chief Spyros Gianniotis have agreed to pay a total of $11.9m to end the claims against them, though they continued to deny the allegations.
Melissanidis agreed to pay nearly $950,000, while Gionniotis will pay the remaining $11m of the settlement.
The deal, if approved by US district judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, would mark a major development in a case that has raged for five years.
The sum paid by Melissanidis, a Greek shipowner and oil tycoon, pales in comparison to the $300m that Aegean Marine alleged had been misappropriated to its founder before the New York-listed shipping fuel supplier and tanker owner filed for bankruptcy protection in 2018.
The company’s Chapter 11 case ended after the company was sold to Mercuria in 2019.
Lawyers for Melissanidis and Gionniotis could not be immediately reached for this story, but court records show that the two men agreed to settle the claims against them without admitting any wrongdoing.
“Melissanidis has denied, and continues to deny, that he committed any act or omission giving rise to any liability or violation of law,” both sides said in a stipulation, which also claimed that Melissanidis has “meritorious defences” in the remaining insider trading claim against him after fraud claims were dismissed.
A stipulation on Gionniotis’ settlement contains a nearly identical denial.
If approved by the judge, the deals will bring total settlements in the case to $41.7m. As TradeWinds reported last year, Buchwald approved deals with the Greek units of accountancy giants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and Deloitte that saw them each pay $14.9m to end claims against them in the case.
Utah Retirement Systems is represented by San Francisco law firm Berman Tabacco, while New York’s Boies Schiller Flexner is acting for Melissanidis. Gianniotis is represented by New York’s Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Anello.