Feds Try to Halt Starwood Suit of Hilton to Chase Criminal Charges

Usually, it’s what goes on inside the hotels that is mysterious. Illicit trysts, quiet business deals and the occasional rendez-vous of spies (very occasional, I suspect) are what we’d love to believe happens in behind the closed doors of hotels up-market and down. The reality, however, is far more interesting. There is plenty of espionage going on in the hotel world, but it’s the hotels themselves – not he guests – who are getting in on the action … and now the feds are involved.

A lawsuit filed by Starwood Hotels against competitor Hilton may have to wait for a bit. Federal prosecutors believe that the civil litigation could impede the criminal investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is pursuing charges that could include conspiracy, computer fraud, theft of trade secrets and interstate transportation of stolen goods against Hilton, as well as two executives that that the company hired from Starwood.

According to the filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “The government seeks a stay of discovery pending resolution of the criminal investigation.”

Starwood alleges that Hilton swiped confidential documents in an attempt to develop an offer that would compete with Starwood’s W Hotels brand. Before the civil effort can be put on hold in favor of the criminal investigation, a judge will have to sign off on the motion.

Hilton’s response to the filing, according to USA Today is: “Hilton Worldwide continues to fully cooperate with the Government’s investigation and supports the Government’s motion to stay discovery in the Starwood civil litigation matter.”

Not exactly earth-shattering.