A firm hired to straighten out the bizarre star’s finances claims he’s running low on liquidity and about to hit the financial skids.

Michael Jackson, who amassed a half-billion-dollar fortune over the past 20 years, is saddled with debt and teetering near bankruptcy, his former financial advisers say in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit, set for trial June 18, claims Jackson’s extravagant spending has created “a ticking financial time bomb waiting to explode at any moment.”

Union Finance and Investment Corp. of South Korea filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming Jackson owes the firm $12 million in fees and expenses, plus interest. Jackson previously paid the firm $3 million, the firm said. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages.

Brian Oxman, a Jackson family attorney, said he does not believe the 44-year-old singer is near bankruptcy.

The lawsuit was filed in April 2002 by Union Finance, described as one of South Korea’s leading financial advisory firms. Jackson hired Union Finance in 1998 to help straighten out his finances, according to the lawsuit.

“When they were retained, plaintiffs believed that Jackson was incredibly wealthy,” the lawsuit states. “At the time plaintiffs agreed to work for Jackson, there was no clue that Jackson’s extravagant lifestyle had all but bankrupted him.”

The firm said it soon discovered that Jackson had only two months’ worth of available funds.

Union Finance’s lawyer said that he stands by the allegations in the year-old lawsuit and that he took Jackson’s deposition last week in Beverly Hills.

“For whatever reason, Michael Jackson is not paying his debts,” said Pierce O’Donnell, a leading entertainment finance lawyer. “He has little or no means of income. He lives off a line of credit.”

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