(Legal Newsline) - A Kazakh businessman, who has played a part in filing nearly
half-a-dozen racketeering and defamation lawsuits in U.S. federal courts in
recent years, is at it again -- this time accusing the owner and operators of
various websites of defamation.
Devincci Hourani filed his most recent lawsuit June 17 in the U.S. District
Court for the District of Columbia. The named defendants are PsyberSolutions
LLC, CEO Allison Blair, Alistair Thomson and Bryan McCarthy, and they claim
Hourani is wasting the court's time with "threadbare allegations."
According to Hourani’s complaint, Thomson and McCarthy were paid by
PsyberSolutions and Blair to organize the defamation “campaign” by carrying out
“social networking strategy and consultancy” and computer programming.
defendants, in a motion to dismiss filed Aug. 24, take a shot at the
frequent-filer Hourani, saying he is “no stranger” to the court.
“Although he is a prominent businessman whose businesses interests are
primarily located outside of the United States, Plaintiff has previously
attempted to use the law of defamation and conspiracy in this District to quash
the flow of negative information about his activities even when, as here, those
activities are widely reported around the globe, and currently the
subject-matter of a foreign lawsuit,” they wrote.
Hourani contends that all of the online publications from the defendants’
campaign on various websites -- Facebook, YouTube, Twitter -- assert that he
was complicit in the abduction, false imprisonment, torture, rape and murder of
Anastasiya Novikova in Beirut in 2004 and in the kidnap of her daughter.
The publications allege that, following Novikova’s murder, Hourani sought to
cover up the crime and that he is now attempting to evade justice by hiding in
The defendants note that Hourani and his brother, Issam -- who, the defendants
added, is now suing them in the United Kingdom with respect to the same
allegedly defamatory content -- attempted to convince the same federal court of
the “existence of a conspiracy” that supposedly stripped them of their
multi-billion dollar assets in the Republic of Kazakhstan and falsely branded
them “international criminals and terrorists.”
The case the defendants are referring to, Hourani v. Mirtchev, was filed in the
D.C. federal court in September 2010.
brothers sued economist Alexander Mirtchev, who is president and founder of
Krull Corporation, a global strategic solutions provider.
Houranis’ claims were civil conspiracy and defamation. In particular, the
brothers claimed the daughter of the President of Kazakhstan extorted millions
of dollars of their business assets with the help of Mirtchev and his
D.C.-based business. The businessmen previously owned oil, broadcasting and
publishing companies in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Mirtchev argued in a November 2010 filing that the brothers’ lawsuit was
misplaced and frivolous.
The lawsuit, he wrote, was brought against him and his business in a United
States court “on the basis of groundless speculation and reckless allegations.”
Judge Thomas Hogan ended up dismissing the Houranis’ complaint with prejudice
in May 2013, noting that the plaintiffs’ claim for conspiracy to defame was
“precisely the kind of ‘mere conclusion’ that is not ‘entitled to the
assumption of truth.’”
The PsyberSolutions defendants, in their August motion, contend Devincci’s
current attempt is “no different.”
“He weaves together threadbare allegations to accuse the Defendants of
‘character assassination.’ He claims that his ‘reputation’ in this country,
whatever that may be, has been tarnished, and that he has experienced mental
and physical distress, due to Defendants’ alleged activities,” they wrote.
despite the professed severity of his claims, Plaintiff does not provide the
Court with anything other than conclusory allegations and fails to connect any
of the Defendants to his claims in a meaningful manner.
“The Complaint attempts to portray Plaintiff as the victim of a smear campaign
who has allegedly been damaged in an amount in excess of $100,000,000. This is
done, when in reality, the Complaint fails to disclose crucial details about
Plaintiff’s involvement in the events that are at the crux of the allegedly
defamatory statements -- events that are a matter of public concern, and about
which any commentary would be constitutionally protected.”
In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld
the D.C. federal court’s decision in Mirtchev.
The federal court dismissed the Houranis’ complaint for failure to state a
claim, and the D.C. Circuit affirmed.
“The Houranis do not contend that their complaint states a claim of domestic
Hobbs Act extortion by Mirtchev or anyone else. Nor do they assert that the actual
extortion of their assets in Kazakhstan was itself in any way a violation of
the Hobbs Act,” the panel wrote in its 28-page ruling.
“They argue only that Mirtchev’s agreement in D.C. to Dariga Nazarbayeva’s
extraterritorial, non-Hobbs-Act extortion scheme in Kazakhstan constituted a
conspiracy in the United States to violate the Hobbs Act.”
The Houranis also failed to state a claim for money laundering, the panel
The federal money laundering statute, the D.C. Circuit explained, defines “unlawful
activity,” and the alleged extortion in Kazakhstan falls outside that
On top of that, the Houranis’ complaint nowhere alleges that they were injured
in any way by the alleged acts of money laundering, the panel found.
“With no injury from the money laundering, and no cognizable Hobbs Act claim to
supply the missing injury either, the Houranis have no injurious predicate acts
at all, let alone a pattern of them,” the D.C. Circuit wrote.
“The wheels have completely come off of the Houranis’ civil RICO claim.”
Mirtchev’s attorneys -- the law firms Bracewell & Giuliani LLP and Sale
& Quinn PC -- said they were pleased with the D.C. Circuit’s ruling, also
describing the Houranis’ ongoing filings in the federal court as abusive and
“This is the latest in three consecutive rebukes of the Houranis’ attempts to
abuse U.S. courts by filing malicious complaints,” the firms said of the
“These complaints were part of the failed legal harassment, PR and lobbying
campaign formerly led by the Houranis’ relative, the late former Kazakhstan KGB
(now KNB) Major General Rakhat Aliyev, who was the source of the fabricated
documents that were the foundation of the case, the negative PR information,
and the campaign.”
John Quinn of Sale & Quinn, who served as co-counsel for Mirtchev, has said
the Houranis’ claims should not have been filed in any court and “had no
business before U.S. courts.”
“The only ‘factual’ support for any claim against defendants was fabricated
documents generated by General [Rakhat] Aliyev that were proven to be forgeries
by world class experts, including renowned document examiner Gideon Epstein who
characterized plaintiffs’ evidence as cut and paste forgeries,” Quinn noted in
an interview with Legal Newsline in August.
New York City law firm Melito & Adolfsen PC represented the Houranis in
Mirtchev and currently are representing Devincci in PsyberSolutions.
According to its website, in the last 10 years it has developed a “significant
international practice” representing clients in Western Europe and the Middle
The firm claims it has developed “special expertise” in terrorism claims,
criminal defense of foreigners alleged to have violated U.S. law, investigation
and compliance under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, defamation and RICO
Judge Rosemary Collyer has been assigned to the PsyberSolutions case.
In an Aug. 31 minute order, she granted -- despite its “erroneous formatting”
-- Hourani’s motion for an extension to respond to the defendants’ motion to
According to the judge’s order, Hourani’s opposition is due Oct. 16. The
defendants’ reply is due Nov. 6.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at