Jermaine Dupri: SunTrust reneged on loan

Atlanta music producer Jermaine Dupri claims SunTrust Bank, which is suing him and his So So Def Productions for about $1.9 million, improperly altered a loan, leaving him with “unachievable payment terms” and fighting state and federal tax liens.

Dupri filed a response in Fulton County Superior Court this week to the suit filed by SunTrust in May. He is seeking at least $216,000 in damages and attorneys fees.

SunTrust spokesman Hugh Suhr said Thursday the bank does not comment on client relationships or litigation.

Dupri said that as part of a 2009 loan, SunTrust had agreed to use 25 percent of proceeds from music royalties to pay taxes owed to Georgia and the Internal Revenue Service, but the bank failed to make the payments.

The Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and performer has helped launch the careers of such artists as Kriss Kross (Chris Kelly and Chris Smith); Da Brat and the female R&B group Xscape.

Dupri claims that in 2010, SunTrust changed terms of the loan to remove the provision requiring that it make the tax payments.

In SunTrust's lawsuit, filed in May, the bank alleges the Grammy winner was in default and still owes money toward the $4.9 million loan from 2010. The loan is backed by copyrighted music owned by Dupri, So So Def and other businesses, as well as a building on Briarwood Court in DeKalb County that houses two recording studios.

Dupri has had financial problems in recent years. In 2011, foreclosure proceedings were initiated on Dupri’s mansion on Mount Paran Road in northwest Atlanta. A planned auction in May of that year was canceled at the last minute, according to a Channel 2 Action News report at the time. The mansion is valued at around $4 million, according to Fulton tax records.

Dupri’s Mount Paran home was advertised for foreclosure again in December 2012, according to records in the Fulton County Daily Report. It does not appear that a foreclosure took place.

At one point, SunTrust agreed to allow Dupri, whose real name is Jermaine Dupri Mauldin, to sell a catalog of songs as part of a plan to repay the debt. The documents do not specify which songs, but that deal apparently fell apart.

In his counterclaim, which accuses SunTrust of fraud and breach of contract, Dupri said terms of the 2010 loan changed what were originally variable payments, due to the unpredictability of royalties from EMI Music Publishing, to higher fixed payments. A loan that originally was not in default, the producer said, soon became in default because new payments due “were not based on realistic projections of Dupri’s income.”

He also said his legal and financial representatives were not allowed to review the new loan before he signed the documents despite the trust he and SunTrust had built “over many years.”