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Tulip Trust demands Roche Freedman turn over documents relating to its relationship with Ava Labs

The Tulip Trust has asked that Roche Freedman be disqualified from its case against Ira Kleiman over the ownership of W&K, and has demanded that the embattled firm produce a raft of documents relating to their interest in Ava Labs and their self-described scheme to stick regulators on its competitors.

Ramona Ang brought the suit against Ira Kleiman in her capacity as trustee of the Tulip Trust, which is part owner of W&K, the company that Kleiman used to wage his multi-billion-dollar legal war on Dr. Craig Wright in 2021. The Tulip Trust is seeking a declaration that Ira Kleiman had no rights to use W&K to sue one of its true owners, Dr. Wright, as well as a declaration as to the ownership of the company—which at minimum appears to be two-thirds owned by Dr. Wright via his companies. This is significant because the only award given in Kleiman v Wright was some $140 million, and was only awarded to W&K.

The request is a response to videos leaked last month which show Roche Freedman partner Kyle Roche bragging about filing frivolous lawsuits against the competitors of Ava Labs, in which Roche Freedman partners have a sizable investment. Roche was caught on camera boasting that this strategy had made him an expert on the inner workings of “every single crypto company” thanks to legal discovery, which has presumably further aided the firm in their glut of class action lawsuits. The attorney also boasts that the firm’s activities has ensured that regulators are focused on companies other than Ava Labs, and he refers to the plaintiffs that make up the firm’s class action lawsuits as “idiots.”

As a result, Tulip Trust has joined the growing list of Roche Freedman’s legal opponents demanding that the firm be kicked off their cases. The firm initially tried to get ahead of the inevitable requests by kicking Roche off its class action practice, but the olive branch seems unlikely to assuage fears of impropriety among those firms unlucky enough to be targeted by Roche Freedman. Attorneys representing Tether and Bitfinex, who are currently defendants in one of Roche Freedman’s class action suits, submitted filings asking for the court to take further action.

But the document request also shows that the mere recusal of Kyle Roche or his firm wouldn’t go far enough for Tulip Trust, who have already raised concerns about the conduct of Roche Freedman’s client Ira Kleiman as he tried to win billions off Dr. Craig Wright last year. Tulip Trust appears determined to find out exactly how far the rot has spread.

The filing, made last week by Tulip Trust attorney Rivero Mestre, requests 19 categories of documents. These include all documents relating to Roche Freedman and Kyle Roche’s engagement with Ava Labs and their relationship with Ava Labs’ owners, any documents relating to Roche Freedman’s attempts to direct regulatory attention towards Ava Labs’ competitors and any document relating to Roche Freedman’s use of ‘straw plaintiffs’ to bring actions against Ava Labs competitors.

There are certainly questions around Roche Freedman’s multi-billion-dollar suit filed on behalf of Ira Kleiman against Dr. Craig Wright in 2018. That suit, in which Kleiman claimed that Dr. Wright had co-invented Bitcoin with Ira’s brother Dave, revealed documents showing that Ira Kleiman was in touch with journalists at Wired and Gizmodo in the weeks leading up to their doxxing of Dr. Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto. The documents relied on by those outlets in exposing Dr. Wright seem to have come from a mystery hacker, but that trove appears to also contain forgeries—most significant of which are documents which conveniently indicate that Dave Kleiman was involved in the invention of Bitcoin.

Roche Freedman also reportedly advised Kleiman to turn down a settlement worth $3 billion in the lead up to trial—a disastrous decision for Ira in light of the fact that he was ultimately awarded nothing in the verdict, but less so for Roche Freedman if their modus operandi is indeed to cause as much disruption to their client’s competitors as possible.

Ira Kleiman himself has come under further suspicion because of his behaviour in the lead up to filing suit against Dr. Wright. Rather than preserve and search hard drives found in the late Dave Kleiman’s possession for evidence that might support Ira’s story, he wiped the hard drives entirely.

All of these factors might have remained as suspicious yet circumstantial footnotes to Ira Kleiman’s failed years-long legal battle against Dr. Wright, but the Roche Freedman leaks put them in a different light entirely. Kyle Roche mentions Dr. Wright by name as an example of one of Ava Labs’ enemies that he has successfully attacked, and it’s not a stretch to think that Kleiman is another ‘idiot’ pawn in Roche Freedman’s scheme to supress Ava’s competitors.

Devin ‘Velvel’ Freedman, another Roche Freedman partner who also served as counsel for Ira Kleiman, told Law360 that the request is ‘frivolous’ and that the firm is, ironically, “disappointed in their behaviour.” But despite casting this request as frivolous, Tulip Trust isn’t the first firm to take this course of action in response to the leaked Kyle Roche videos, and given how prolific the firm has been in suing crypto companies in recent years, they almost certainly won’t be the last.

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