The Firm represents a Hedge Fund that specializes in trading cryptocurrency assets. One of the Fund’s general partners was the subject of an unrelated federal criminal investigation based out of Philadelphia. The government executed a search warrant at his home in Boulder and ended up seizing a laptop that contained the “private keys” to five cryptocurrency “wallets” belonging to the Hedge Fund. Without the private keys, FGMC’s client had no ability to access or control these wallets which contained a total value that was close to $2 million. Understandably, the Fund’s investors were quite irate that their money had been seized. The assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia initially maintained that the seizure was proper, and the cryptocurrency was subject to forfeiture.
That process would have taken months, if not years, to resolve. FGMC attorneys argued that the seizure was illegal and beyond the scope of the search warrant in the unrelated case. These negotiations were ultimately elevated to the Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit for the E.D. of Pennsylvania. After proving that the cryptocurrency in these wallets came from the Fund’s investors and threatening to file an action in U.S. District Court here, the government relented and voluntarily returned the private keys, allowing the Firm’s client to access and transfer the cryptocurrency to new accounts. Gary Lozow began the initial work and negotiations on this case, and then John Chanin and Katie Roush jumped in and saw this case through to a complete win. The case required FGMC’s lawyers to navigate the cutting-edge, but murky, world of cryptocurrency and its intersection with federal law and regulations.
It is unusual for the Department of Justice to do a 180 and roll over; however, our FGMC attorney’s negotiation skills and reputation for winning in court brought this case to a successful conclusion without litigation.