A Northern Virginia development firm and its socially prominent director have been accused in a lawsuit of mismanaging nearly $2 million that foreign investors claim was supposed to be placed in the rapidly expanding Loudoun County real estate market.

The suit filed in federal court in Alexandria, alleges that the International Pavillion Co., of Leesburg, its board chairman, Helmi E. Carr, and others diverted the Virginia corporation's assets and mismanaged millions of dollars intended for development uses.

The suit by Beus, N.V., an international development firm based in the Netherlands Antilles, seeks $10 million in damages and appointment of a custodian for the Leesburg company.

Carr, who once owned several small area newspapers and a bank, said yesterday she could not comment "unitl I've seen the suit. But offhand it looks like an attempt by foreign investors to take over the company."

International Pavilion was formed in 1976 for the purpose of building and selling homes in Loudoun County, according to the suit. The Beus, N.V. firm invested $1.855 million in the company three years ago, it said.

Helmi Carr is a millionaire Loudoun County attorney whose holdings at various times have included the Fauquier Democrat and Metro Virginia News newspapers, a printing plant, and a bank. All were sold for a profit, she said yesterday.

Carr added that International Pavilion is currently building 176 homes in the "Carravale" development near Leesburg. The firm has never built any other projects, she said.

According to the suit, the directors of the company, who include Carr's son and daughter, "mismanaged" the company's assets, and forced the firm to borrow $1.8 million to stay solvent.

Additionally, the firm agreed to pay director James W. Wine $85,000 a year as a "consultant," an arrangement which constituted "disadvantageous self-dealing," the suit claims.

As a result of its alleged mismanagement, the firm has been unable to pay $16,000 in county real estate taxes, and a $1,700 franchise tax, the suit alleges.

Wine and other directors, including Carr's son, Richard H. Carr, and her daughter, Cynthia C. Shrump, could not be reached for comment.

Beus, N.V. is the latest of a number of foreign investors to show an interest in Loudoun County. Last year a Saudi Arabian prince paid more than $5 million for entertainer Arthur Godfrey's Leesburg farm.