Akon’s former business partner compared the rapper’s plans for a futuristic city in Senegal to a Ponzi scheme, in asking a judge to freeze his New York assets while a $4 million lawsuit plays out.
Devyne Stephens — a music exec who’s worked with musicians including Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, Usher and Pink — sued Akon in 2021 for nearly $4 million he allegedly still owes his former partner from a prior legal settlement.
Now, Stephens is asking a judge to freeze all of Akon’s Big Apple assets, claiming that without the freeze he’d have difficulty collecting the debt — given Akon’s alleged history of shady practices, according to papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Monday.
Akon’s $6 billion project to turn an oceanfront village in Senegal into an eponymously named Wakanda-like city that would run on a cryptocurrency called “Akoin,” is one example of this, Stephen’s lawyer Jeffrey Movit alleges citing the findings of retired federal Special Agent Scot Thomasson.
Akon City and Akoin show “many of the trademark characteristics (known as ‘red flags’) of fraudulent business ventures such as Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes,” Thomasson claims in his affidavit.
The Akon City plans “are broken promises,” Movit alleged.
“Akon has provided almost no transparency about who is investing in Akon City or how it will be purportedly built. Therefore, Akon City is likely a scam,” Movit wrote, citing Thomasson’s affidavit.
Further, there is scant information about how the cryptocurrency would work and it’s being promoted with raffles and tokens, “which are characteristic of a multi-level marketing scheme,” the filing claims.
Stephens isn’t the only one allegedly struggling to get back money from Akon – who has a hefty unpaid tax bill, the court papers claim. In fact, the IRS placed liens on Akon’s real estate because he owes over $6 million in taxes, the filing alleges.
And despite Akon allegedly bragging in an interview about getting paid in garbage bags full of cash for his performances in Africa, he “does not appear to be using this African cash to re-pay his debts to the IRS,” Movit wrote.
“And he certainly is not using this cash to fulfill his contractual debts to plaintiffs which are the subject of this lawsuit,” the court papers allege.
Akon’s rep said: “Mr. Stephens’ allegations about Akon City and Akon’s business ventures are not based on any evidence.”
“They are nothing but innuendo and speculation, made by someone who had a claim against Akon dismissed,” the rep said, referring to a claim in the prior version of Stephens’ lawsuit that a judge tossed.
“Akon is proud of the efforts he is undertaking to create opportunities for his homeland in Senegal,” the statement concluded.
Movit declined to comment.