Singer-songwriter LEONARD COHEN slapped his longtime business manager with lawsuit, alleging he's been defrauded of at least $5 million (GBP2.7 million).

The legal action, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday (15AUG05), seeks damages for alleged breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud, professional negligence and other claims against KELLEY LYNCH.

Tax lawyer RICHARD WESTIN is also named as a defendant for allegedly mismanaging Cohen's retirement funds.

According to the suit, Lynch was Cohen's business manager for 17 years until he fired her last October (04) for allegedly taking money out of his personal and investment accounts.

The fraud allegedly started while Cohen was taking time away from his career to focus on his spiritual life. While Cohen was not recording or touring, Lynch allegedly started to pay herself an increased portion of the artist's royalties.

The suit states, "Cohen believed that he had hired Westin and (his firm) to protect his retirement savings, but, in fact, they burdened the sale with transactions costs in excess of $4 million and they devised unnecessarily complex corporate structures that allowed Lynch to steal over $5 million for her own benefit without Cohen's knowledge or consent."