United States v. Prevezon Holdings, Ltd., No. 16-132 (2d Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Hermitage challenges the district court's denial of its motion to disqualify counsel for Prevezon. The underlying litigation arises out of a 2013 civil forfeiture action brought by the United States alleging that Prevezon received the proceeds of a complex, sweeping scheme that defrauded the Russian treasury of roughly $230 million. The government alleges Prevezon laundered portions of the fraud proceeds in New York by buying various real estate holdings in Manhattan. Hermitage, an investment advisory firm, is a victim of the Russian Treasury Fraud. The court concluded that this case presents the “extraordinary circumstances” necessary to grant a writ of mandamus, as Hermitage is without other viable avenues for relief and the district court misapplied well‐settled law. The court explained that it is rare that a nonparty, nonwitness will face the risk of prosecution by a foreign government based on the potential disclosure of confidential information obtained during a prior representation. That real risk, however, coupled with the misapplication of the law by the district court, outweighs the delay and inconvenience to Prevezon of obtaining new counsel. The court found the remaining arguments raised by the parties to be without merit. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for a writ of mandamus and instructed the district court to enter an order disqualifying Moscow and BakerHostetler from representing Prevezon in this litigation. Prevezon’s motion for clarification is denied as moot.