Roche Freedman

Ousted Roche Freedman partner now wants Christen Ager-Hanssen deposed in lawsuit vs former firm

Jason Cyrulnik, the ousted Roche Freedman partner currently accusing the firm of seizing his share of a $60 million client fee paid in digital currency, is fighting to have Christen Ager-Hanssen deposed in his lawsuit against them.

Cyrulnik is suing Roche Freedman and its partners for colluding in a scheme to oust him from the firm in order to deprive him of his entitlement to a massive client fee, payable in ‘crypto’ tokens, which had at one point become worth over US$60 million.

According to Cyrulnik, Ager-Hanssen wants to testify that partner Kyle Roche told him about the scheme in a private, candid conversation earlier this year.

Ager-Hanssen is one of two men on the other end of the filmed conversation with Kyle Roche which was published by Crypto Leaks in August. In the conversation, Roche brags about using straw plaintiffs to wage legal warfare on the competitors of Ava Labs, a crypto company in which Roche Freedman’s partners have considerable financial stake. Ager-Hanssen confirmed to CoinGeek’s Kurt Wuckert Jr that he’s the person Roche is talking to on the leaked videos, but says that he had nothing to do with the recording itself.

Now, Cyrulnik wants Ager-Hanssen to give testimony in his case against Roche Freedman. Cyrulnik told the court that Ager-Hanssen is able to give evidence about other statements Roche had made which didn’t make it into the Crypto Leaks story—and which are apparently highly relevant to his dispute against the firm.

“Kyle Roche made candid admissions to Mr Ager-Hanssen that he participated in a scheme to deprive Cyrulnik of the tokens to which Cyrulnik was entitled,” reads the request.

Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, the firm representing Roche Freedman in the Cyrulnik case, had initially succeeded in getting the subpoena quashed. They argued that the burden imposed on the parties as a result of the deposition would greatly outweigh any benefit it might have, and that allowing Ager-Hanssen’s deposition would be prejudicial to Roche Freedman. They say that they have “no doubt that Mr Ager-Hanssen would offer nothing but fabricated, prejudicial testimony designed to inflict maximum harm on Mr Roche.”

The court accepted the arguments and quashed three subpoenas—including that intended for Ager-Hanssen—on 28 September.

However, Kasowitz Benson Torres, the firm representing Cyrulnik, has filed a request for the court to reconsider Ager-Hanssen’s subpoena. They argue that unlike the subjects of the other subpoenas quashed by the court, Ager-Hanssen never wanted his subpoena quashed and is not claiming that a deposition would put him under any undue burden.

In a response to Cyrulnik’s request filed October 6, Roche Freedman argues that there’s no basis for the court to reconsider its order, which can only be done as an “extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources.”

That the subject of Roche Freedman’s dispute with Cyrulnik over $60 million worth of digital currency tokens would have been raised among Kyle Roche’s boasting is plausible. Certainly, it’d be a surprise if Roche didn’t bring the subject up given how freely he spoke about his litigation in the crypto space and the advantages it had given him and his firm, going so far as to refer to the plaintiffs which he represents in his class action lawsuits as ‘idiots.’

Roche also appears to be particularly aggravated by Ager-Hanssen—understandably so, given the bombshell Crypto Leaks story arises from a meeting set up between the two. Despite the damning nature of the things Roche admits on film, it was Ager-Hanssen that was the focus of his response to the leaked video: the embattled partner characterizes the leaks ‘brazen’ attempts to intimidate him and the firm by Ager-Hanssen. Roche says Ager-Hanssen is motivated by his work for Dominic Williams, the creator of another ‘crypto’ token and who is the defendant in a case brought by Roche Freedman.

After the leaks, Roche Freedman had hoped to avoid further light being shone on the firm by voluntarily removing Kyle Roche from its class-action practice. It hasn’t satisfied the firm’s counterparties, many of whom have now requested that Roche Freedman be removed from their cases altogether over concerns that confidential information produced in the case will be misused by the firm.

Between the prospect of Ager-Hanssen testifying in the Cyrulnik case and a motion filed earlier this week in another of Roche Freedman’s cases demanding that the firm turn over all its documents relating to Ava Labs, Roche Freedman seemingly has a long way to go before this saga is behind them—and a lot more details about the inner-workings of the firm seem set to be revealed in the meantime.

Watch: CoinGeek’s Kurt Wuckert Jr. interviews Christen Ager-Hanssen

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.

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