Kyle Roche’s law firm should be terminated from a class action suit against crypto exchange Bitfinex and affiliate Tether because recordings of the attorney raise questions about his motivations, company lawyers said.
“Roche’s statements raise grave concerns,” Debevoise & Plimpton partner Elliot Greenfield wrote in a filing Wednesday in the Southern District of New York on behalf of Bitfinex and Tether.
Roche, founding partner of Roche Freedman, filed motions Wednesday to withdraw as counsel in separate actions targeting Bitfinex/Tether and Tron, an issuer of digital tokens.
He took the action after denying allegations he had teamed up with client Ava Labs to target competitors through litigation. He posted his denial Aug. 29 on the platform Medium after a website calling itself Crypto Leaks posted videos of Roche discussing his work with Ava Labs, a blockchain developer.
Roche wrote in his motion that he is “no longer involved” in his firm’s class action practice.
Such a statement is “extraordinary,” given that class action work makes up the vast majority of the Roche Freedman’s workload, Greenfield wrote.
The move is “inconsistent with Mr. Roche’s suggestion that his videotaped statements were taken out of context,” Greenfield said. “It validates the serious concerns caused by those statements. Indeed, it heightens those concerns.”
The court should require Roche Freedman to certify it has destroyed all information produced by defendants and that it has not shared any documents with Ava Labs or any other third party, Greenfield said.
Roche and his firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment through a spokesperson on Thursday.
Class Action Suits
Roche is one of several lawyers and firms, including Selendy Gay Elsberg and Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky, representing plaintiffs in the Bitfinex action.
The three firms were appointed lead counsel in 2020 in a case alleging that Bitfinex and Tether were part of a scheme to manipulate the cryptocurrency market and defraud investors. Some of the claims survived a motion to dismiss in 2021.
Other lawyers involved from Roche Freedman include Daniel Martin Stone, Devin Freedman, Edward John Norman and Joseph Michael Delich, according to court records.
The Bitfinex/Tether case is one of the many class action suits Roche’s firm has worked on targeting crypto exchanges and digital token issuers.
The firm helped represent plaintiffs in a case that resulted in a jury last December ordering self-professed bitcoin inventor Craig Wright to pay $100 million in damages for cheating a deceased friend over crypto intellectual property, Bloomberg News reported.
Boies Schiller Alums
Roche Freedman launched roughly three years ago with a dozen alums of the elite litigation shop Boies Schiller.
The firm, which has focused on areas including crypto and cannabis litigation, now has 24 lawyers based in New York, Miami and Boston, according to its website.
Roche said in his Medium post that his firm has counseled Ava Labs since 2019 and that the representation consists of “defense side cases typical of any large corporation.”
Ava Labs Chief Executive Officer Emin Gun Sirer in a tweet called the allegations of he and Roche teaming up to target competitors “conspiracy theory nonsense.”
Sirer said in a statement on Medium Aug. 29 that the leaked videos showed Roche making false statements about their relationship while trying to “impress a potential business partner.”