Update: Vulcan Denies Report That Blazers Owner Paul Allen Headed To African Court In Giraffe Bone Smuggling Saga

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

Vulcan has denied a report that Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is headed to court in Botswana after his sister allegedly tried to smuggle giraffe bones out of the country.

Update: A spokesperson for Vulcan has denied an Africa Review report that Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is headed to court in Botswana after his sister allegedly tried to smuggle giraffe bones out of the African nation.

"Completely inaccurate," she said. "No claims have ever been made in Botswana's courts. ... This is in fact a civil matter in US court."

Mtokozisi Dube of the Africa Review reported Friday that Allen would be headed to court in Botswana this fall.

Microsoft founder and American billionaire Paul Allen will appear in a Botswana court in October for allegedly attempting to smuggle giraffe bones to the US.

According to the King County Superior Court, a safari guide was arrested and detained in Maun, Botswana's tourism capital, by customs officials after the Microsoft co-founder and current Seahawks owner (Allen) and his sister Jody, tried to sneak home the bones while on safari in Botswana. Court papers charge that a review of the trip to Botswana by the Allens had revealed a pattern of illegality.

"The acts I have witnessed and had to engage in to perform my job to the expectations of my principals leave me with no choice other than to constructively terminate my employment," reads a statement by one of Allen's bodyguards.

Back in October 2011, members of Allen's security team, including a former FBI agent and a Navy Corpsman, filed a lawsuit against Allen and his sister Jody, who serves as Vulcan's CEO. In March 2012, it was revealed that the lawsuit alleged that Paul and Jody Allen ordered the bodyguards to "participate in illegal activities" and Jody was accused of making "inappropriate and sexual comments" to one of the bodyguards. Vulcan maintained that the lawsuit was "baseless."

On Friday, Vulcan's spokesperson also issued this statement regarding the claims made by Allen's bodyguards in their filings, which continue as ongoing legal proceedings.

These claims are based on rumors and innuendo, and we will not be held hostage to these types of baseless allegations. This will become clear as we are allowed to defend ourselves in court. It is an unfortunate byproduct for people in Paul and Jody's position that individuals look for ways to take unfair advantage of them.

Back in March, Levi Pulkkinen of the Seattle PI reported that the "illegal activities" alleged in the suit include an accusation that Jody tried to sneak giraffe bones out of Botswana without following the proper exportation protocol. The paper also reported that Allen was expected to be called to testify in court.

Luggage packed with giraffe bones could mean trouble for Vulcan CEO Jody Allen and her brother -- Microsoft co-founder and Seahawks owner Paul Allen -- as lawsuits filed by the siblings' bodyguards proceed. The allegation - that Jody Allen tried to sneak home the bones while on safari in Botswana - is the most concrete claim made so far by a group of former Vulcan Inc. bodyguards who've sued both Allens and their firm, which was founded by Paul Allen, who remains the company's chairman.

...

In June 2011, Leodler learned a safari guide was detained by Botswana customs officials after Jody Allen was caught with giraffe bones in her luggage, Roe said in court documents. The incident prompted Leodler to conduct an investigation that left her concerned her team was being asked to bribe foreign officials, falsify customs declarations and smuggle protected items.

"Jody Allen had bones in her luggage she sought to remove from the country illegally," Roe claimed in court documents. "A Vulcan ‘Africa After Action' trip review, and (Leodler's) further inquiries revealed this was part of a pattern of conduct by the owners."

A spokeswoman for Vulcan declined to discuss the allegations in detail. Attorneys for the Allens have issued a blanket denial of all claims of wrongdoing.

...

Attorneys for the former employees have said they will call dozens of Vulcan employees to testify should the lawsuits end up before a jury. Paul and Jody Allen are expected to be called to the stand, as are at least 15 current and former executive protection officers, the Allens' pilot and yacht captain, and Jody Allen's personal assistants. Other Vulcan executives also have been named on witness lists filed with the court.

So, to recap the situation: any upcoming court action would be taking place in Washington, which is just north of Oregon, not Botswana, which is just north of South Africa. The October timeline appears to have been pulled from thin air at this point.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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