Singer and actress Cher, and the heirs of her late husband Sonny Bono, have sued Universal Music Group for $5 million, claiming the record company did some creative accounting in hiding revenue from two of her greatest hits collections.
The lawsuit effectively accuses the company of acting like a group of gypsies, tramps and thieves, claiming that an audit of UMGs books showed the company engaged in wrongful tactics and self-dealing to keep the money hidden from the pop superstar. According to Reuters, the complaint alleges that the company breached two contracts that Cher had with companies that were later owned by UMG, MCA division Kapp Records in 1972 and David Geffen Records in 1987.
According to the lawsuit, UMG made a side deal with Warner Music UK to distribute her 1999 greatest hits collection through Universal International to hide the 50 percent net royalties owed to her and Bonos heirs. She also claims that Universal deducted $328,662 in TV ad expenses from the revenues for the album and tacked on a 6.5 percent service charge. In addition, she claims UMG signed a deal with Warner Music Group to distribute a 2002 best-of collection, but underpaid her by making it appear that Universal was selling the album directly.
A UMG spokesman said the allegations were without merit.
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