BASE FX Says it is the Victim of $234 Million Fraud
BASE FX, a leading Chinese VFX and animation company, filed a lawsuit yesterday claiming it has been victimized by two Americans who impersonated CEO Chris Bremble, forged documents, and ultimately swindled investors out of $234 million, according to Variety.
The suit alleges that the two men, Remington Chase and Kevin Robl, had been engaged with the company in multiple financing arrangements and a joint venture in Malaysia over the course of several years. Over the last year and a half, however, the company discovered the two had used those arrangements to deceive financiers into loaning or otherwise investing in the company and its projects to the tune of more than $234 million.
Variety reported that BASE FX’s allegations include Chase and Robl had forged the CEO’s signature on investment documents, created fake entities and bank accounts, has an imposter pose as the CEO on calls with investors, and even setup a fake company office in Pasadena, California.
The company can’t account for any of the funds, claiming the two men apparently took a portion of the proceeds for their personal use.
Reached for comment, Bremble shared that the company needed to file the suit and make the fraud public, and that more information would be shared in the future.
Founded by Bremble in 2006 and headquartered in Beijing, BASE FX has produced VFX work on a number of top film projects including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Avengers as well as TV projects like The Mandalorian. Most notably, the company produced the critically-acclaimed CG animated feature, Wish Dragon, through BASE Media, which grew out of BASE FX. Written and directed by Chris Applehans and produced by Bremble and Oscar-winning Shrek producer Aron Warner, Wish Dragon had a short stint in Chinese theaters right at the start of the pandemic before finding a global audience on Netflix. AWN reported extensively on the film going back to 2016, including interviews with Bremble, Warner and Appelhans. AWN also published an in-depth, two-part interview with Bremble in early 2016.
Bremble was introduced to Chase in 2013 by the company’s agency, United Talent Agency, as it was looking to expand into live-action and animated film production. The lawsuit states that Chase was presented as a “proven and successful financier,” and that Chase courted BASE in a “long con.”
Variety also noted that Chase invited Bremble to his hangar near LAX, where he was introduced to Elon Musk, with whom he seemed to have a relationship; he was also flown by Chase in his helicopter to Kevin Costner’s house, who met them on the lawn and had lunch with them.
In 2017, Bremble began doing business with Chase, who helped finance the Wish Dragon production. Chase introduced Bremble to Robl, a script writer and producer who also worked in film financing.
An SEC civil case against Chase was announced in September 2020 alleging he swindled investors in another company, Knightsbridge Entertainment; according to the complaint, of the $62 million raised, only 1/3 went to its stated purpose.
In November 2020, BASE FX investors began demanding repayment on company loans made through Chase and Robl, at which time the company began to uncover the various forgeries. From that point up until early 2022, the company received demands for repayment totaling $234 million.
Head over to Variety to read their excellent account, including additional details and timeline of the alleged fraud and companies involved.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.