UPDATED, April 12, 2018: One week after this story was published, the Qatar Investment Authority, which TheWrap reached out to for comment prior to publication, responded with this statement: “This article includes a number of allegations that are unfounded and incorrect. Among others, neither the Qatar Investment Authority nor its CEO are investors in, nor have they had any involvement with, Big3.”
Ice Cube is looking to score big against people he says stiffed him on investments in his BIG3 basketball league, then spread lies when they were cut off from the league.
The rapper and his BIG3 partner Jeff Kwatinetz have filed suit against Qatar Investment Authority CEO Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bun Saud Al Thani and others, seeking $1.2 billion in damages, alleging defamation, trade libel and other counts.
The suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, says the league “was to take the most popular played sport in the world, 3 on 3 basketball, from the playground to the professional setting of NBA-style arenas and broadcast games.”
However, the suit says, things took a bad bounce when they agreed to take on the defendants as investors.
“Touting their love of basketball and familial connections and relationships with the royal Al Thani Family in the State of Qatar, and thus access to vast resources and capital, Defendants were brought to the Big3 as passive investors,” the suit reads.
However, the suit says, instead of being passive investors, the defendants “quickly started to insinuate themselves into the affairs of BIG3 despite failing to live up to even their most basic obligation to fully fund their investment.”
The complaint adds, “These members and associates of the royal family made excuse after excuse for not paying, all of which is documented in text messages and emails, where the blame for their failure to fund the millions they owed the BIG3 ran the gamut from their ‘sinuses,’ ‘hiking,’ it being a ‘long day bro,’ and to bad press regarding Qatar associations with alleged funding of terrorism … Also, like a simple debtor in hiding from a collection agency, these Defendants with their purported links to the Qatar royal family would go into hiding and refused to return phone calls and ignore Plaintiffs.”
Cube and Kwatinetz say that an investigation found that the defendants “were falsely bragging about ‘operating the league,’ and how they were friends with BIG3 celebrity investors as well as BIG3 and NBA basketball stars and legends.” According to the suit, the defendants had a “history of scandal surrounding its basketball programs” and believed their relationship with the BIG3 and the celebrities and athletes associated with the league “would improve the public perception of Qatar in the United States as well as its standing in the arena of sports on a global level.”
After the defendants declined multiple chances to pay “the millions they indisputably owed,” the suit says, they were kicked to curb and severed from the league — after with the defendants “retaliated with a campaign of disinformation and by making outrageous defamatory statements against all Plaintiffs and interfering with Plaintiffs’ existing and prospective contractual relations, to harm the league and destabilize if for one last desperate shot at control.”
“Ironically, when Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz pursued their lifelong dream of starting a basketball league from the ground up, and invested their personal assets and time in doing so, the last thing on their list of plausible concerns and impediments would be the malicious and reckless conduct of foreign actors and compromised agents and actors working on their behalf,” the suit reads. “Nonetheless, Plaintiffs and the players of the BIG3 who are heavily invested in the success of the league have united to confront this challenge and protect their American dream.”
The suit seeks $1.2 billion in consequential damages, “or approximately $20 million per player in the BIG3.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.