Eric Lamaze of Canada has been accused of deception in a lawsuit relating to two horses ©Getty Images

Former Olympic showjumping champion Eric Lamaze has been accused of deception by owners of two horses in a civil lawsuit worth more than $1.3 million (£1.1 million/€1.2 million).

The complaint in Palm Beach County in Florida against Canadian rider Lamaze and his companies was filed by Lorna Guthrie and Jeffrey Brandmaier relating to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI)-registered horses Newberry Balia NL and Nikka VD Bisschop.

They have claimed that Lamaze sought to "induce plaintiffs to transfer large sums of money to defendants, purportedly for the purchase of horses for investment purposes", "deceive plaintiffs regarding the purchase" and "withhold the proceeds of sale" of an investment.

In 2020, it is alleged that Lamaze "falsely and deceptively inflated the price - and therefore made a wrongful profit of $103,343.06" (£85,433.71/€97,379.13) when Guthrie and Brandmaier invested in Newberry, which they believed to be for 100 per cent ownership interest.

The plaintiffs say that they later learned that the company TPS Florida was invoiced €190,000 (£167,000/$202,000) for its purchase of the horse, and their ownership was not registered with the FEI.

After the horse won two classes at Aachen in September of that year, the plaintiffs claimed that an agreement was reached to find a buyer, but that the defendants "failed" to do so, which they suggest was due to its retirement from two classes under Lamaze's care and return to the US with an injury.

Regarding Nikka, the complaint states that Guthrie and Brandmaier acquired a 50 per cent split in the ownership rights with Lamaze in September 2020, and that the defendants failed to return more than $1.3 million (£1.1 million/€1.2 million) in their share of the profits.

It is claimed that Guthrie and Brandmaier transferred $278,000 (£230,000/€262,000) under the impression this was for 50 per cent ownership, but learned that the defendants had paid €375,000 (£329,000/$398,000) around October 2020 for full ownership rights.

Lamaze then allegedly convinced the plaintiffs to sell their share for $525,000 (£433,000/€495,000) and become joint partners in his share.

Eric Lamaze won individual jumping gold for Canada at the Beijing 2008 Olympics ©Getty Images
Eric Lamaze won individual jumping gold for Canada at the Beijing 2008 Olympics ©Getty Images

However, the complaint says that Lamaze "materially breached the new proposal" and had "diverted funds rightfully due" to Guthrie and Brandmaier, and claims that when approached he "conceded he had already spent the plaintiffs' funds".

They say that Lamaze sold a further 45 per cent stake in the horse for $2.27 million (£1.87 million/€2.14 million), but that they received none of this.

Nikka went on to represent the Canadian team at the FEI World Championships with rider Beth Underhill.

It is claimed that the plaintiffs are owed $1,325,834.21 (£1,094,370.07/€1,248,604.37) from the sale of Nikka.

Lamaze did not wish to comment to Horse and Hound.

An FEI spokesperson told insidethegames: "The FEI is aware of the civil lawsuit filed in the US against Eric Lamaze, however the FEI is not involved and not in a position to comment, as the FEI does not deal with horse sales disputes."

He won individual jumping gold and team silver with Canada at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, and collected an individual bronze at Rio 2016.

He retired from competitive equestrian last year, having been diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017 which was publicly revealed in 2019.

Lamaze was originally picked for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta but lost his place and received a four-year suspension after testing positive for cocaine, although this was later overturned.

In 2000, he again tested positive for a banned stimulant and was therefore unable to compete, this time at the Sydney Olympics.

This was again overturned on appeal, but the Canadian Olympic Committee refused to reinstate him for Sydney 2000.