Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Fla., has agreed to reimburse more than $2.5 million in deposits that about two dozen customers put down for special-order 911 GT3 and GT2 RS models with a former employee who allegedly pocketed the money and never ordered any vehicles.
Champion, the nation's top-volume Porsche dealer, wants to "make sure that these victims — that's what we're calling them — come out of this from a customer satisfaction perspective as satisfied as possible," said Roy Diaz, lawyer for Copans Motors, which does business as Champion Porsche.
Diaz said the dealership hopes to advance funds to customers equivalent to their deposits by Oct. 12. Some customers are working on applying the amount of their deposits to a new-vehicle transaction, Diaz said.
Diaz said his law firm last week was finalizing terms of the agreements, which would call for the customers to assign their claims to Champion Porsche. The dealership would then try to recover the money through its pending lawsuit against the employee — former salesman and marketing vice president Shiraaz Sookralli — his wife, another associate and a shell company Sookralli allegedly controlled, Champion Autosport.
The dealership will advance the money, and "we're evaluating the various opportunities for recovery," Diaz said.
Last month, a judge ordered a Champion Autosport account at Bank of America frozen, but Diaz said only about $40 was left in it.
Copans Motors also has asked a judge to freeze four personal bank accounts linked to the defendants that had received transfers from the Champion Autosport account. The dealership is seeking records for three Bank of America accounts and one Chase Bank account, according to court records.
A court hearing was held Friday, Sept. 28, on that request and Copans Motors asked for it to be confidential. Diaz declined to comment on the outcome.
Porsche last week declined to comment beyond its previous statement that Champion Porsche had notified it about the situation and "has assured us it will help Porsche buyers who might have been impacted."
Law enforcement also continues to investigate, Diaz said. At least two customers — one in New York, another in California — have filed police complaints saying they wired money to a Champion Autosport account for rare vehicles they never received.
Sookralli's whereabouts are still unknown, but the dealership said in court records that it was in contact with him by email.
A year ago, Champion Porsche, Sookralli and another company he controlled were named as co-defendants in a lawsuit alleging a similar scheme. In that case, the plaintiffs said they paid a $500,000 deposit to Sookralli and his company for a high-end Porsche that was never delivered. The suit went to mediation and an undisclosed settlement was reached. a
Urvaksh Karkaria contributed to this report.