Eugene Hutz accused of stealing $500,000 from Gogol Bordello bandmates

The band's former guitarist accuses its frontman of entering into a lucrative secret deal with Coca-Cola

Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz is being sued by the band’s former guitarist, who accuses him of stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from the group.

Oren Kaplan filed the lawsuit against Hutz on behalf of the band, accusing the singer of taking “brazenly absconding” with $500,000 (£329,000) that he claims belongs to the group. The guitarist is seeking $948,000 (£623,000) in damages as well as the same amount going to Gypsy Punks Ltd, the company set up by the band. Courthouse News reports that Kaplan submitted the claim in New York and accused Hutz of breaching contract, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment.

The suit alleges that in 2009, Hutz took control of Gogol Bordello’s accounting and began paying himself an annual salary of $129,000 (£85,000), twice as much as his bandmates were receiving at the time. Kaplan also claims the singer created new corporations, separate from the band, and transferred around $500,000 (£330,000) of the band’s money to his new account. Additionally, Hutz is accused of keeping a deal between the band and Coca-Cola for use of one of the groups songs in a promotional advert, secret from his bandmates.

“Hutz secretly entered into a promotional deal for the group with Coca-Cola without telling plaintiff about it,” Kaplan writes in the lawsuit. “Hutz accomplished this ruse by feigning concern for plaintiff (whose mother had just passed away) and encouraging plaintiff to take an extended leave of absence from the group… Hutz’s true reason for encouraging plaintiff to extend his leave of absence was to ensure that plaintiff would not participate in the Coca-Cola promotion, thereby allowing Hutz to keep more of the proceeds from that promotion for himself.”

Gogol Bordello are due to tour the UK in December and recently performed live at Download festival in Donington.