Lawyers of Swiss cement company seek to have fraud case thrown out

Lawyers for the CEO of Holcim Ltd., the world's second-largest cement maker, asked a court Tuesday to dismiss a fraud case alleging shareholder manipulation during the Swiss company's purchase of a Dominican cement maker.

The attorneys urged a judge to throw out the case against Markus Akermann, arguing that courts in Panama and Switzerland have already ruled that he and two associates committed no wrongdoing during Holcim's buyout of Cementos Colon in the 1990s, Akermann lawyer Eric Raful said.

Carlos Manuel Escalante, a former minority shareholder of Cementos Colon, brought the fraud charge against Akermann, alleging that he intentionally diluted the value of company stock held by minority shareholders. Escalante is seeking unspecified damages.

Akermann, who was not present at the hearing, is accused along with Carlos Gutierrez Marcet, who heads Holcim's subsidiary Dominican Cement Holdings, and Dominican lawyer Clara de la Cruz. Gutierrez on Monday called the charges baseless.

The judge is expected to issue a ruling Thursday on whether the case should be heard. Switzerland-based Holcim Ltd. operates in more than 70 countries, AP reports.

A. A.

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