No Secret Pact to Sue AVAX Rivals, Lawyer Lied to Impress: CEO

“Neither I, nor anyone else at Ava Labs ever directed Roche in his selection of cases,” said CEO Emin Gün Sirer in a statement


Blockworks exclusive art by axel rangel


key takeaways

  • A controversial report ruffled feathers by claiming lawyer Kyle Roche and Ava Labs formed a secret pact to damage rivals
  • “All videos passed our analysis as real videos,” a digital media forensics expert told Blockworks

Ava Labs CEO Emin Gün Sirer is hitting back at claims of engaging in a secret pact to harm AVAX competitors with lawyer Kyle Roche.

Website CryptoLeaks published a series of videos last week in which Roche revealed he was granted 1% of the supply of avalanche (AVAX) tokens and similar size in equity in exchange for filing lawsuits against crypto companies.

CryptoLeaks claimed that Ava and law firm Roche Freedman wanted to use the American legal system “gangster style” to chase rival crypto firms, which would subsequently turn regulatory attention onto them.

Reacting in a blog post on Monday, Sirer suggested Roche’s statements in the videos were untruthful and designed to dazzle a potential client. 

“These claims evidently came about when Roche, a lawyer at a firm we retained in the early days of our company, tried to impress a potential business partner by making false claims about the nature of his work for Ava Labs,” Sirer wrote.

CoinGecko lists AVAX’s total supply at 409,165,637, which means 1% would equate to nearly 4.1 million AVAX ($83.6 million). Ava Labs’ valuation is unknown at this time.

Apart from Roche’s statements, allegations made by CryptoLeaks are “categorically false,” he added. AVAX fell 26% after publication of the ‘secret pact’ report. The token is down 81% so far this year at $20.23, the Blockworks Research portal shows. 

“Neither I, nor anyone else at Ava Labs ever directed Roche in his selection of cases. We do not receive materials or information from him, and we do not entrust our legal affairs to him,” Sirer wrote, adding that Roche has represented Ava Labs only in a defensive capacity in ordinary disputes.

The alleged pact didn’t specify that Roche would bring lawsuits against other parties on behalf of Ava Labs itself.

Legitimate videos in AVAX ‘secret pact’ report

Roche Freedman has sued a string of crypto companies including Solana, Binance, Bibox, BitMEX and KuCoin over allegations of offering crypto assets which were unregistered securities. 

The firm also represented Ira Kleiman in his lawsuit against Craig Wright, having recently secured a $100 million judgement for Kleiman.

Earlier this year, Roche Freedman was on the other side of the table after former partner Paul Fattaruso sued the firm for denying compensation and equity interest.

Fattaruso reportedly claimed Roche Freedman removed him from a partnership and deprived him of a 2% share in a $250 million crypto fee the firm received for legal services provided to an unnamed startup.

Some pundits have questioned the integrity of CryptoLeaks’ allegations and questioned whether it’s funded by an Avalanche competitor, alluding to its two previous reports which leaned towards Internet Computer (ICP).

Dfinity — the company behind Internet Computer blockchain — was slapped with a classaction lawsuit by Roche last year. 

In his own response on Monday, Kyle Roche claimed the CryptoLeaks article contained “numerous unsourced false statements and illegally obtained, highly edited video clips.” 

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The claims have captured the attention of popular crypto investor Cobie.

Roche identified an unknown speaker in the videos as Christen Ager-Hanssen, whom Roche said works for ICP’s creator Dominic Williams.

Separately, digital media forensics expert Siwei Lyu confirmed that the videos included in the report were legitimate and didn’t show traces of deepfake synthesis. 

The evidence was corroborated by hand positions and the presence of objects such as glasses. “All videos passed our analysis as real videos,” Lyu told Blockworks.

Kyle Roche and ICP creator Dominic Williams didn’t return Blockworks’ request for comment by press time. 

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