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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More Tidbits on Eller & Co - Crimes, Romance & Lawsuits

Goodness Gracious, I have never seen so much paper stacked up around my computer! I have been digging so much that I feel like a gopher. Some interesting tidbits have popped up regarding Eller & Co’s past but it’s gonna take me a little time to sort through it. Here’s some highlights that I’ve been able to pick out…

Eller and Co. really like being in a courtroom...
*2001 Eller went to Broward Circuit Court over Port Everglades’ granting of a management contract for a shipping terminal to a rival, South Stevedoring Inc. According to Broward County Commissioner Ben Graber, "Eller and Co. claimed the process was unfair and took a series of steps to undermine the decision making process" while the deal was at the County Commission level. The lawsuit’s timing was suspect and "created the illusion of wrongdoing or collusion on the part of the county government". Graber called Eller’s tactics a “win at all cost policy”.

*Eller’s subsidiary, Continental Stevedoring and Terminals, has been fighting P&O for years in local courts according to the Sun-Sentinel. Apparently Continental won a 7.2 million dollar case against P&O, then lost on appeal in May 2005.

*Eller & Co was near bankruptcy and owed Port Everglades close to $2 million in 1994. Eller & Co was purchased by Hans Hvide of Hvide Marine and he pumped in the cash to make it one of Florida’s largest terminal operators. Hvide died in 2000.

*Eller’s current CEO is Arthur C. Novacek. He pled guilty in Sept. 2000 to making an illegal campaign contribution to Perry C. Harvey, candidate for Hillsborough County Commission, in 1996. In 1999, Novacek “retired” from the position of CEO and President of Eller & Co. He stayed on as a “consultant”. As part of the plea agreement, Novacek agreed to cooperate in the federal prosecutors’ probe of missing money from the pension fund of International Longshoremen’s Assn Local 1402. He was re-appointed CEO in 2004.

*There is a nasty little lawsuit claiming that Louie Wainwright Jr., who replaced Arthur Novacek in 1999, romanced the widow of Hans Hvide in order to have access to corporate money. This one reads like a trashy novel so far…

*There’s the little issue of the Port Everglades Alliance (aka Florida Alliance Inc) which has ties to Hvide and Eller & Co. Seems they were getting paid to lobby against gas pipelines in Florida for years but there had been no proposals for gas pipelines for several years.

I have absolutely no idea what this all has to do with the DP World/ P&O deal because my head is too full. BUT it has given me many names to follow up. Plus its like a cheesy TV movie with all these lawsuits, romances, under the table dealing, etc. HEY – maybe this could be my next book…

As usual here's some links...
Dual Interests Served by Commission Vote – Ben Graber
Lauderdale firm maps US legal challenge to Dubai deal on ports Co- Sun-Sentinel 3/7/06
Florida Probe of Campaign Contributions Moves Forward.

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