| NEW YORK, Sept 14
NEW YORK, Sept 14 Lawyers for Och-Ziff Capital
Management Group LLC said a federal judge ignored his
own deadline by certifying a class-action lawsuit tied to a
bribery probe on Wednesday without giving the largest publicly
traded U.S. hedge fund company a chance to object.
U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan said Och-Ziff
shareholders from February 2012 to August 2014 can sue as a
group over allegations that the company misled them about U.S.
Department of Justice and U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission probes into its investments in Africa.
The judge called the class certification bid "unopposed"
because the defendants Och-Ziff, Chief Executive Daniel Och and
Chief Financial Officer Joel Frank had not responded.
But less than two hours later, lawyers for the defendants
told Oetken in a letter that he ruled too quickly, having given
them until Oct. 11 to respond, in accordance with a scheduling
order he issued in May.
The lawyers said Och-Ziff, Och and Frank intend to oppose
class certification, and urged Oetken to vacate his order.
Oetken's chambers declined to comment. Jeremy Lieberman, a
lawyer for the Och-Ziff shareholders, also declined to comment.
Even if he vacated the order, Oetken signaled he might look
favorably on class certification, which could lead to higher
recoveries at lower cost than if plaintiffs sued individually.
He said claims such as those made by the plaintiffs' "are
generally suited to class action litigation," and that the
lawsuit "satisfies all the requirements for class
U.S. authorities have been investigating whether Och-Ziff
bribed Libyan officials to win business from that country's
sovereign wealth fund, and whether Och-Ziff loans funded illegal
payments to the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The New York-based company has earmarked $414 million for a
possible settlement with the U.S. government relating to the
The case is Menaldi v Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC
et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will