Lawsuit Alleges Michelin-Starred Chicago Chef Homaro Cantu Hid Money From Key Investor

Alexander Espalin, an investor in Homaro Cantu's restaurants Moto and iNG, has filed a lawsuit against the chef in which he claims that Cantu spent money from Moto's bank account to cover a number of personal costs, reports Crain's Chicago.

Cantu is accused of having withdrawn money from Moto in order to pay for "personal trips, meals, legal fees and to support his other personal ventures, among other things."

Espalin states that he was unable to review financial documents and that Cantu diluted his share in Moto, and took away his ability to make business decisions for the Michelin-starred restaurant.

According to the suit, Espalin personally invested $100,000 in iNG (now shuttered) and Moto, and continued to provide money to cover operating losses at iNG. By 2012, Espalin had become a 15 percent owner of Moto. Espalin claims that when, during the same year, he expressed the desire to close iNG, Cantu "shut down communications" and disabled Espalin's email addresses for the restaurants.

Furthermore, despite annual profits between $2.5 million and $3.5 million, the suit claims that Espalin did not receive any profits from Moto between 2010 and 2014. Instead, Cantu allegedly "co-mingled funds" among his restaurants.

Espalin is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, as well as Cantu's removal as Moto's director.