Amazon founder Jeff Bezos slammed Michael Sanchez – the brother of his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez – for allegedly attempting to extort the billionaire by suing him for defamation, according to a report.
Bezos, the richest man in the world, has accused Michael Sanchez of trying to "put himself back on the front pages and extract money from Defendants by leveraging the current media environment to harass them," the tech mogul's attorney said in court papers filed Monday, The Daily Mail reported.
Sanchez, a Hollywood-based talent manager, sued Bezos and his private investigator on Friday in Los Angeles court for defaming him by allegedly telling reporters – either himself or through his reps – that Sanchez was the person who sent nude photographs to the National Enquirer.
But Sanchez insisted in the court papers he had never even had possession of the photographs.
Sanchez said he has since lost clients and was effectively shunned by his friends and family as a result of the falling out.
He was Lauren Sanchez's manager when, in 2018, his sister approached him about leaking information about the affair to TMZ as a way to avoid potential backlash and get ahead of the media, the lawsuit alleges. Bezos was married to Mackenzie Bezos when the pair allegedly met in 2017.
Michael Sanchez said he advised Lauren against doing so and initially denied rumors of the affair when approached by media outlets.
But he then entered a deal with the National Enquirer, in which he "agreed to corroborate the existence of the relationship under conditions that would help Mr. Sanchez manage the timing of the story and the way in which the affair was portrayed," according to the complaint.
The publication ran a story on the new couple in January 2019, just after Bezos and his wife announced they'd be filing for divorce. Their split was finalized in July.
In response to the ongoing legal battle, Lauren Sanchez told The Daily Mail: "Michael is my older brother. He secretly provided my most personal information to the National Enquirer - a deep and unforgivable betrayal."
The couple has since been seen jet-setting around the world, including to London, India's Mumbai and Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, St. Barth, New York City and San-Tropez, France.
Last month, two human rights experts at the United Nations said that Bezos' iPhone was likely hacked through a file sent from an account used by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But the U.N. experts did not tie the hack to the Enquirer. The experts called for an "immediate investigation" by the United States.
Bezos boasts an estimated net worth of approximately $127 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.
Meanwhile, Mackenzie Bezos, whose Amazon holdings amount to more than $36 billion, has since sold approximately $400 million in company shares she was awarded as part of their divorce agreement, according to an end-of-year filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Bloomberg Billionaire Index indicates she's worth an estimated $40.8 billion.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.