More than 200investors in the beleaguered VIP 3 and 4 private media funds have become the first to file fordamages.

The claims against the German fund are estimated at around $30m (Euros 25m). The plaintiffs claim VIP Medienfondsprospectuses were misleading and that not all of the equity raisedwas actually channelled into production.

The Bremen-basedlaw firm KTAG filed the claims for damages at 30 regional courts throughout Germany on behalf of 244 investors against VIP's CEO Andreas Schmid - who was remanded in custody last October -and the three banks Commerzbank, Dresdner Bank andthe HypoVereinsbank (HVB).

According toKTAG partner Dietmar Kaelberer,the Dresdner Bank and HVB were responsible for the large damages suffered byinvestors "through their involvement in these questionable investmentmodels."

The investorinterest group BSZ reported that Schmid's lawyers hadtried to stop KTAG from informing its clients about the VIP funds and had blocked further access tofiles on the case at the public prosecutor's office in Munich.

"One thustends to get the impression that attempts are being made with all one's mightto prevent the clarification of absolutely disreputable facts," KTAGpartner Jens-Peter Gieschen commented.

KTAG'sannouncement in early February of plans afoot to make claims against VIP on behalf of a group of investors hadprompted the fund's CEO Andreas Grosch to speak ofthe law firm as "ambulance chasers" and "sharks" and to beopenly dismissive of the investors' case against VIP.