- Alex Casimo and Leonard Lancia left Citadel Securities and arrange Portofino Applied sciences.
- Citadel has taken authorized motion towards them, claiming they plotted the launch earlier than leaving.
- Portofino accused Citadel of “intimidation and interference” in a movement to dismiss a New York lawsuit.
Ken Griffin has made some scathing feedback about cryptocurrencies in recent times.
The billionaire founding father of the hedge fund Citadel and Citadel Securities, the market-making agency based mostly in Miami, stated in October 2021 that because of the “lack of regulatory certainty round cryptocurrency, we simply aren’t concerned immediately.” He added: “I simply do not wish to tackle the regulatory danger on this regulatory void that a few of my contemporaries are able to tackle.”
Griffin additionally described crypto as “a jihadist name” towards the US greenback.
Alex Casimo and Leonard Lancia didn’t share the identical view of crypto. They left Citadel Securities Europe in March 2021 and the next month based Portofino Applied sciences, a Swiss-based start-up that is creating high-frequency trading-grade know-how for digital belongings.
They publicly introduced their new enterprise in September 2022, together with funding of greater than $50 million from outfits together with Valar Ventures, International Founders Capital and Coatue.
Valar’s founders embrace Peter Thiel, whereas International Founders has invested in firms together with Slack, Zalando and HelloFresh over the previous 20 years.
The enterprise has confronted authorized challenges by Citadel Securities, whose European arm filed a case in London in June 2022.
Based on Portofino, Citadel’s core criticism is that “Lancia and Casimo allegedly violated their employment agreements by soliciting Citadel Securities workers” – a declare they reject.
A listening to on the London Courtroom of Worldwide Arbitration is scheduled for Might subsequent 12 months.
Citadel has not been content material to solely contest the matter in Europe. In Might this 12 months it started authorized motion towards Portofino within the US as effectively when it sued the start-up in New York, claiming the founders had stolen “commerce secrets and techniques” and instructed “bold-faced lies to their colleagues about their actions and intentions.”
Portofino stated in its preliminary response that Citadel’s authorized motion was “unmeritorious, anticompetitive and a traditional instance of company bullying.”
“Intimidation and interference”
The most recent chapter within the wrangling got here this week when Portofino filed a movement within the US District Courtroom for the Southern District of New York to dismiss the swimsuit. It argues it is a European dispute, and that Citadel Europe had chosen to first take motion in London.
Portofino additionally said a need to conclude the London case as shortly as doable so it might “proceed with its day-to-day enterprise freed from Citadel Securities’ intimidation and interference.”
Portofino stated there is not any proof it had stolen commerce secrets and techniques and that the allegations have been “clearly meant to intimidate different Citadel Securities workers who’re fascinated about leaping ship,” per the movement.
The movement additionally factors out that after Griffin made his feedback in October 2021, “Citadel Securities apparently had a change of coronary heart about crypto.” In March 2022, Griffin instructed buyers that the agency wanted to present “critical consideration” to turning into a market-maker in crypto.
Per the movement, in December 2021 “Citadel Europe’s exterior counsel started “demanding data from Portofino and its founders, and shortly after started shaking down Portofino’s recruiters, buyers, and potential buyers for details about Portofino, together with by threatening litigation.”
In January 2022 Griffin offered a $1.2 billion stake in Citadel Securities to enterprise capital companies Sequoia and Paradigm. CEO Peng Zhao stated on the time the funds would assist Citadel increase into new asset courses. Matt Huang, the Paradigm cofounder, stated that enlargement would come with crypto, the Monetary Occasions reported.
“Lengthy monitor report of supporting workers”
A Citadel Securities consultant instructed Insider in a press release that Lancia and Casimo “secretly designed and launched” a crypto market-making agency whereas employed by Citadel, and “lied to colleagues and held clandestine investor conferences throughout which they touted the entry and the benefits they gained from working right here.”
“Additional, their try to improperly poach Vincent Prieur, a New York-based worker described because the ‘aggregator of all issues crypto’ at Citadel Securities, is undisputed. We’ve an extended monitor report of supporting workers who select to start out their very own companies – however after they overtly have interaction in deception to take action, we are going to maintain them accountable.”
Prieur, who later joined Portofino, had additionally been the topic of authorized motion by Citadel Securities that was settled out of courtroom, Bloomberg reported.
A consultant for Portofino instructed Insider in an electronic mail that Lancia and Casimo “firmly deny” all of the allegations made by Citadel Securities.
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