NEW YORK (AP) – Alternative-rocker Trent Reznor testified Monday against his longtime manager, saying he was stunned to learn in 2003 that despite millions of dollars in earnings by his band, Nine Inch Nails, he was left with as little as $400,000 in cash.

“I felt I had an accountant I couldn’t trust,” he said as he testified against John Malm in a civil trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The trial resulted after Reznor sued Malm, contending that his former close friend duped him into signing a contract that gave Malm 20 percent of his gross earnings rather than net earnings and lets Malm collect the commission forever.

A lawyer for Malm, Alan Hirth, said in an opening statement that his client worked many years for no salary and kept nothing secret from Reznor.

“Of the millions upon millions upon millions that Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails made, the vast majority went into his (Reznor’s) pocket,” Hirth said.

Reznor testified he trusted Malm more than anyone else in his life when he agreed to let him handle his finances in the 1980s as the band signed its first record contract and encountered success.

“We wanted to change the world,” Reznor told jurors. “John was the business guy, and I was the guy working for nothing in the studio.”

He said the pair had a very strong friendship and relationship at the time.

Reznor said the pair created their own production company and managed sales of merchandise but the expenses piled up.

He admitted he ignored his finances and sometimes signed documents without reading or understanding them.

Reznor said he signed a document in 1993 giving Malm half the rights to the trademark protected name Nine Inch Nails. Reznor said he came up with the name when he started the group.

Reznor said he began to grow worried about finances when he was told during a meeting with Malm and a lawyer in 2002 that there was “cause for alarm.”

The following year, he said, he asked Malm to tell him how much money he had. He said he was sent a financial statement that revealed he had at most $3 million in total assets and as little as $400,000 in cash.

“It was not pleasant discovering you have a 10th as much as you’ve been told you have,” he said.

Reznor testified that he began understanding his finances after overcoming alcohol problems several years ago.

Nine Inch Nails’ latest single, “The Hand That Feeds,” was listed No. 2 on Monday on Billboard’s Top 20 list of modern rock tracks.


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