APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
Memorandum opinion by direction of the court. By MR. JUSTICE LURTON.
This is a bill by the appellee to recover from appellants secret profits made by them as promoters of the Las Ovas Company in the purchase of a part of a tract of land known as Las Ovas in the Republic of Cuba, and also for the cancellation of certain shares of stock issued to them as promoters.
The facts essential to judgment are not in serious dispute. They are found clearly and full stated in the opinion by Mr. Justice Gould of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, and again in the opinion of the Court of Appeals of the District by Mr. Justice Robb.
From the facts found by both courts it appears: --
a. That the appellants and certain other persons, not parties to this suit, signed an agreement on March 19, 1904, by which they agreed to purchase for a corporation which they were to organize a specified part of a tract of land in Cuba called the Las Ovas plantation, for the price of $34,000, to which it was later agreed to add another small parcel at an additional price of $1,000.
b. It was further agreed that they should organize a corporation, of which they should be the incorporators, with a capital stock of $150,000, and that 40 % of the shares should be issued to them for service as promoters and that the remaining stock should be subscribed for by them. For this subscribed stock they were to pay an amount sufficient to cover the purchase money of $35,000 and to create an expense fund of $5,000.
c. It was agreed that the property should, when acquired, be placed in the hands of one of the group of promoters until the formation of the company, and then conveyed to it.
d. The scheme was one originated and engineered by
the appellants, who at the time of this agreement had already secretly secured an option for themselves for the purchase of this property at the price of $20,000. To conceal the true consideration from their associates they caused the property to be conveyed by the vendor to one Escalante, a stranger selected by them. The deed to Escalante recited the true consideration. Later, in pursuance of the promoters' agreement, they caused Escalante to convey to the member of the syndicate selected to hold the title until organization, reciting a consideration of $35,000.
The corporation was organized as planned. The promoters' shares were duly issued and the remaining shares taken by the promoters upon the agreed terms, its officers and directors being composed exclusively of the members of the syndicate. Thereupon the property was transferred to the company and paid for, through appellants, out of the proceeds of the subscribed stock.
The result of the transaction was that the corporation was required to pay to those who had assumed to act for and represent it, a secret profit of fifteen thousand dollars and also to compensate them for their services in buying the land and organizing the company by issuing to ...