If I asked you which MLB franchise is claiming foreign citizenship in a Caribbean tax haven, and is doing so in order to get out of a lawsuit, you’d have answered the Marlins before I finished asking the question, wouldn’t you?
In February, Miami-Dade County, which owns Marlins Park, sued Jeffrey Loria for its agreed upon share of the profits from the sale of the team, but Loria has attempted to avoid paying out by claiming that he actually lost $140 million in the sale. (Loria bought the team for $159 million and sold it for $1.2 billion. Presumably, some creative on-paper accounting took place here.) Miami-Dade County also named as a defendant Derek Jeter’s new ownership group, claiming that the Jeter group is contractually responsible to cover any disputes over Loria’s accounting. Now the Jeter group is attempting a relatively novel ploy to avoid having to go to court.
According to the Miami Herald, the Jeter group has filed a claim that the company that owns the team is actually a corporate citizen of the British Virgin Islands, and as such, any legal disputes are therefore international ones and should be heard by a federal judge instead of a Miami-Dade judge. Why does that matter? The Miami-Dade judge, in a preliminary ruling, has already sided against the Jeter group by rejecting their request for the dispute to be heard by an arbitrator. Going to federal court would strip that judge of the case and presumably make it more likely that the team would be successful in its attempts to go to arbitration.
What’s the source of the Marlins’ claim to BVI citizenship? Strap in. Well, Abernue Ltd., one corporation (of many) that owns a piece of Marlins Holdings LLC, is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Marlins Holdings LLC owns Marlins Funding. Marlins Funding owns Marlins Teamco. Marlins Teamco was formed last year by Jeter and majority owner Bruce Sherman and the other partners in order to purchase the team from Loria.
“Accordingly, Marlins Teamco is a citizen of the British Virgin Islands,” the Marlins claimed in their court filing.
The county isn’t having it.
Anyway, this is obviously a legal tack and shouldn’t be viewed as anything more substantial to that. But there’s something satisfying about Miamians completely rejecting their local team, despite it being the pride of the British Virgin Islands: