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House Money: Inside the Ugly Lawsuit Pitting Anuel AA Against His Ex-Manager

todayJanuary 24, 2023

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Lawyers for Latin trap star Anuel AA are heading to a Miami courthouse Tuesday to ask a judge to block his former manager Frabian Eli from selling a $4.8 million Florida mansion — the latest bizarre twist in a nasty legal battle between the “lifelong friends.”

After years of partnership amid rising stardom, the two have suddenly found themselves in an ugly divorce. Eli (full name Frabian Eli Carrion) sued in September, claiming Anuel breached their contracts by abruptly firing him last summer and owes him millions in unpaid fees. The star rapper (real name Emmanuel Gazmey Santiago) fired back with a countersuit in November, accusing Eli of stealing millions in order to “fund his own extravagant lifestyle.”

In the upcoming showdown Tuesday, the lawsuit’s messiness is on full display.

Anuel is seeking an “emergency injunction” that would bar Eli from selling a 6,000-square-foot home in Doral, Fla., worth an alleged $4.8 million — a property the star calls “one of the many illicit purchases made by Carrion using funds from the company’s bank accounts.”  Without the order, they claim Eli will sell the house in an effort to avoid paying back the money he stole.

Eli, meanwhile, says the injunction demand is baseless and the latest example of his former friend choosing to “lash out” rather than pay him his fair share of their success: “Nothing more than an attempt to divert the court, and the public monitoring this case, away from the undisputed facts of the case.”

‘Unilaterally Terminated

Anuel and Eli worked together for years, starting well before the Puerto Rican rapper released his 2018 debut, Real Hasta la Muerte, and won the 2019 new artist of the year award at the Billboard Latin Music Awards. Eli then managed Anuel through three subsequent albums that all topped Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, and the pair also started and operated their own record label.

But just nine months after Eli gushed about his “childhood friend” to Billboard, on Sept. 4 the manager filed a lawsuit against Anuel in Florida state court, alleging he had been “unilaterally terminated” from their shared company, despite a seven-year contract that hadn’t been set to expire until 2026. The deal allegedly entitled Eli to 10% of Anuel’s gross earnings.

In his complaint, Eli said he had been surprised by the move because he had worked tirelessly to advance the star’s career, including during Anuel’s months-long stint in prison after pleading guilty to a gun possession charge.

“That prison sentence did not stop the manager from continuing to believe in the artist and to work towards the continuation of his career, while working for the artist twenty-four hours a day seven days a week, without receiving any pay,” Eli’s lawyers wrote at the time. “Together, the manager and the artist have enjoyed enormous success in the music industry, which due to the manager’s handling of the artist’s affairs, has parlayed into a number of other successes in life.”

Read Eli’s entire lawsuit here.

‘Maliciously Exploited

In November, Anuel told his side of the story – and he went a lot further than simply rebutting Eli’s allegations. In his own counter-suit, the star said Eli had been terminated because he had “maliciously exploited” their friendship to “defraud” him out of millions of dollars.

Among other allegations of wrongdoing, Anuel claimed his manager had secretly taken excess money from music agreements with Sony’s The Orchard and with Kobalt; that he had stolen money set aside for tax payments; and that he had secretly made huge personal purchases with company money, like $191,000 toward a Lamborghini, more than $1 million toward jewelry, and an undisclosed sum for renting private jets for his family.

The lawsuit also claimed Eli had taken “kickbacks” in return accepting bad business deals on Anuel’s behalf. For instance, it claimed that when Eli had arranged the purchase of a Miami condo for Anuel’s parents, he had “conspired” with the realtor to pay “a higher than necessary price” in return for a personal payment from the agent.

“In complete and utter contravention of his contractual and fiduciary duties; all reasonable sense of morality; and his years long friendship with artist, which led artist to place his full trust in Carrion, Carrion …  bilked counter-plaintiffs out of millions of dollars for which they are rightfully entitled,” Anuel’s lawyers wrote at the time.

Read Anuel’s entire counter-suit here.

Losing Out On Millions

With the lawsuit and counter-suit both still in the earliest stages of litigation, Anuel threw another bomb in early December — demanding the emergency court order restraining Eli from selling the $4.8 million house in Doral. He claimed that more than $1 million in payments for the Doral house had come from company bank accounts.

In the filing, Anuel’s lawyers warned that Eli was already in “a precarious financial position” and that the property was the only asset they could find under his name. Without a court order requiring him to retain it until the lawsuit was over, the lawyers said there might be no other way for Anuel to recover the allegedly stolen money.

“Counter-plaintiffs risk being successful on its claims, and nonetheless losing out on millions of dollars because [Eli] was permitted to dispose of the property – the sole asset currently in his name – and no longer possessed sufficient assets to cover the value of harm he deliberately and calculatedly took,” they wrote in the Dec. 2 motion.

Eli’s attorneys fired back two weeks later, arguing there was no grounds for an extraordinary order like an injunction freezing the sale of a home. Anuel’s core allegations against Eli, they said, were “simply ludicrous” and “non-sensical” — meaning that he would eventually owe money to their client, not vice-versa.

“This case is really about an artist … that rose to stardom based in part on the work done by the manager, who has now chosen to lash out against the manager with falsities in response to a lawsuit which had to be filed due to the artist’s own irrational actions,” Eli’s attorneys wrote. “Instead of litigating this case on provable facts, with evidence, Anuel is trying to use a ‘kitchen sink approach’ to muddy the waters and cause as much harm as he can.”

Read the entire emergency motion and response here.

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todayJanuary 24, 2023

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