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Gearbox CEO accused by former studio lawyer of taking $12M bonus

Gearbox CEO accused by former studio lawyer of taking $12M bonus

January 11, 2019 | By Emma Kidwell

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford is being accused by former general counsel of the studio of receiving a secret $12 million bonus from publisher Take-Two Interactive.  

This legal dispute comes shortly after Gearbox sued its former counsel, Wade Callender, back in December 2018 for "fraud and breach of fiduciary duty."

Callender filed his suit against the studio in response, and both men seem to be suing each other over allegedly violating their legal duties to the company. 

As reported by Kotaku, Pitchford allegedly received the $12 million in secret as an advance against Borderlands profits, which Gearbox has claimed is "absurd." 

According to the lawsuit filed by Gearbox, the studio alleged that Callender, who worked at the company from 2010 until 2018, borrowed money for a home loan and tuition, neither of which were paid back in full. The studio also claims Callender destroyed evidence of the home loan agreement. 

In addition, Callender reportedly "abused the privilege of credit card access by charging unapproved, wholly personal expenses, including family vacations, gun club memberships and firearms accessories."

In December 2018, Callender sued Gearbox and Randy Pitchford, accusing Pitchford "of violating various contracts involving both Gearbox and a separate real estate company that they both owned, as well as Callender’s own employment contract."

The lawsuit against Gearbox alleges that Pitchford struck a deal in 2016 to receive a "personal, secretive ‘Executive Bonus’ of $12,000,000 to be paid directly to Pitchford entity called ‘Pitchford Entertainment Media Magic, LLC.'"

Callender and his lawyers argue that the bonus was an advance upon royalties that would otherwise go to Gearbox’s staff.

“This is particularly tragic exploitation,” the lawsuit states, “because these millions are being syphoned to Randy Pitchford’s personal accounts instead of funding the development of Borderlands.”

“The allegations made by a disgruntled former employee are absurd, with no basis in reality or law,” a Gearbox spokesperson said to Kotaku. “We look forward to addressing this meritless lawsuit in court and have no further comment at this time.”

The full lawsuit from both Gearbox and Callender can be viewed here.

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