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Facebook CEO faces fraud charges

Mark Zuckerberg moved closer to a trial over a developer’s lawsuit alleging the billionaire committed fraud by reneging on a promise to introduce him to Silicon Valley’s elite as part of a land deal.

According to Bloomberg, a state judge in San Jose, California, denied Zuckerberg’s request to throw out claims that he didn’t keep his word in a $1.7 million deal that ended plans for a mansion with a view into the 31-year-old Facebook founder’s bedroom.

Superior Court judge Patricia Lucas said at a hearing that “she’ll consider Zuckerberg’s arguments before making a final decision on a breach-of-contract claim”.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg’s backyard privacy showdown took another dramatic turn when the lawyer for the developer confirmed during the hearing that he’s seeking to withdraw from the case. Attorney David Draper, who represents developer Mircea Voskerician, didn’t disclose why he wants off the case after winning a number of pretrial battles and just weeks before it’s set for trial. He declined to comment on it outside of court.

 

The case grew out of a 2012 deal in which Zuckerberg paid for the rights to buy the house behind his home in Palo Alto, California, from Voskerician. The developer claims he gave Zuckerberg a 40% discount on the property rights, while agreeing to drop plans to build a 9,600-square-foot home, because he was promised introductions and referrals to boost his business that never materialized.

But this week, Lucas rejected most of Zuckerberg’s requests to have individual claims decided in his favour without need of a trial. She also ruled that Divesh Makan, a financial adviser to Zuckerberg, must face a claim that he was part of a conspiracy to defraud Voskerician.

 

In her tentative ruling issued before the hearing, Lucas refused to dismiss the contract claim, saying the evidence shows the alleged agreement “is not so uncertain or indefinite so as to be rendered unenforceable.” She said she’ll issue a final decision later.

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