Casino operator Thunderbird Resorts is a bit of an odd duck: it is based in San Diego but incorporated in the offshore tax and secrecy haven of the British Virgin Islands. The company gets more than half its revenue from its Peruvian gambling houses; it also owns 56 percent of gambling operations in Nicaragua.
Thunderbird readily admits it has too much debt, and has been selling properties to write that debt down; since 2010 it has sold or closed gambling operations in Panama, Peru, Guatemala, Poland, the Philippines, and Costa Rica. The company lost $9 million on $56.2 million in revenue last year. Its stock sells for 49 cents.
This is a company that has to watch every dime. On June 12, Thunderbird filed suit in federal court against a group of Panama, Costa Rica, and Nevada business entities and personnel. Thunderbird says that in 2002 it arranged to operate Costa Rican properties with those defendants. They would split profits 50/50. Between 2007 and 2014, the Costa Rican operation paid $2 million to a defendant company for "legal and consulting expenses" that permitted the group to operate casinos in Costa Rica.
But, alleges Thunderbird, one of the defendants secretly paid $108,000 toward the purchase of an office building in Poway. The defendants claimed they had made the purchase with "discretionary" money from their side of the business. Thunderbird says it never agreed to these payments. It asserts that $550,000 of the so-called joint funds were redirected to a businessman who is a member of the defendant group. Thunderbird is suing for damages.