Bitter legal fight roils Harley Marine Services


(SEATTLE) — A legal battle has erupted on the Seattle waterfront between the founder of Harley Marine Services and its biggest investor, with accusations in courtrooms on both coasts about embezzlement, fraud and an attempted boardroom coup, The Seattle Times reported.

At stake in the battle between Chairman and CEO Harley Franco and the Australia-based investment firm Macquarie is control of a tug and barge company with 120 vessels from Alaska to the Gulf Coast and 800 employees.

By one account, it’s a story of the lengths to which a powerful private equity firm will go when trying to have its way. By another account, it’s about a founder abusing his position to misappropriate corporate funds and prop up his personal finances.

The drama is amplified by the fact that Harley Marine Chief Operating Officer Matt Godden, hired by Franco years ago and groomed as his apparent successor, has turned against him — and this month voted to fire him.

The corporate infighting also has rattled the company’s customers and bankers, according to documents in the case.

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By Professional Mariner Staff