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DeJoria changed Texas law to dodge Moroccan judgment

Moroccan companies opposed to US tycoon John Paul DeJoria in the Talsint case have filed with the United States Supreme Court. They want the court to rule on the billionaire’s contribution to changing a law in Texas in order to avoid the application of a Moroccan verdict ordering him to pay more than 969 million dirhams.

The court battle between the American magnate John Paul DeJoria and Moroccan companies is experiencing a new twist. On Monday, companies in the kingdom seized the Supreme Court of the United States. They want the highest court in the country of Uncle Sam to take up this so-called Talsint case.

For them, the American legislation must not allow the rich plaintiffs to change the law halfway [of the procedure, note]. Because, John Paul DeJoria has indeed pushed for the change of the law of 2005 on the recognition of the monetary judgment of foreign countries, in the perspective of dodging the judgment pronounced against him by a Moroccan court.

It all started when a non-partisan American commission recommended that the United States add new protections for Americans facing foreign trials. If more than 20 states had implemented this recommendation, Texas too should follow the same path.

It is in this sense that the American magnate John Paul DeJoria mobilized his lobbyists and his lawyers. Goal? Get Texas lawmakers to revise state law recognizing foreign judgments. This should give DeJoria a “second chance” to avoid the decision taken by Moroccan justice.

“Unfair does not always mean unconstitutional”

To do this, lobbyists and lawyers of the American magnate had targeted events in Texas, like the Biennale Texas Medal of Arts Awards, to plead the cause of their client. It was in the aftermath of this event, held in February 2017, that a lawmaker in the Texas State Lower House and another in the State Senate introduced bills to that effect.

The state would later adopt the “Uniform Law on the Recognition of Judgments Relating to Money in Foreign Countries”, which would thus “give American litigants new protections against foreign courts”. But basically, it was also the lifeline of John Paul DeJoria who wanted to get rid of his “Moroccan problem”.

“There is a deep irony in allowing DeJoria to assert that he was deprived of due process in Morocco when it was his lobbying efforts that changed the rules of the game in the midst of the procedure in the United States,” wrote US judge Gregg Costa, who said that “unfair does not always mean unconstitutional.”

The American tycoon said in an interview that “there is no comparison” between his lobbying efforts and the “process” of justice in Morocco. “They didn’t pass a law for me. They added to the law what it should already contain. That way it protects me and everyone else in Texas,” he said.

The conflict between DeJoria and Moroccan companies dates from the 2000s. In 1999, he decided to launch an oil exploitation project in Talsint, Morocco. He and his business partners founded Lone Star Energy Corporation at the time. But the promising project never achieved its objectives.

A commercial court had then started the lawsuit launched by Maghreb Petroleum and ordered it to pay 969,832,062.22 dirhams. The same Moroccan company then started a long battle in the United States in 2013 to “recover” the gains on the assets of DeJoria.

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