A third shareholder suit against Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. in connection with the David Begelman affair was filed yesterday in federal court in New York.
The suit names all of Columbia's board members as well as Begelman, who quit in February as head of the company's movie and television divisions. It alleges the board concealed misappropriations by Begelman from shareholders "in an attempt to maintain the market price of Columbia's shares at an artifically inflated level."
Filed by Esther Nemo, a Columbia shareholder residing in Ohio, the shareholder derivative suit challenges an arrangement Columbia made after Begelman resigned to retain his services "at a compensation far greater than that provided for in his pre-existing employment agreement." It also challenges as illegal the payment of $250,000 in profit sharing to Begelman for the fiscal year ending June 25, 1977.
Begelman was reinstated as head of the Columbia studio by the company's board last December after an internal investigation reveal he had forged checks and otherwise misappropriated more than $60,000 from the company in a period beginning about January, 1975 and ending last May.
After the furor following his reinstatement failed to die down, Begelman quit. An exclusive production and consulting arrangement with him at Columbia disclosed indicates he stands to earn a minimum of $1.5 million over a three-year period.
The suit filed yesterday also challenges a company stock option plan for certain "key" employes, claiming that the 1975 plan was amended at Columbia's annual meeting last fall, but that the proxy statement for the meeting was "falso and misleading" because it did not include details of Begelman's misconduct.
Columbia had no immediate comment on the suit.