The $5.9 million settlement that the U.S. government reached in May with a firm allegedly tied with a massive $230 million heist from the Russian Treasury may hang in the balance as the government moves to enforce the agreement.
Prevezon, which had been accused of taking $1.9 million from the treasury scheme, argues that it is not able to pay the settlement because the assets it intends to use to pay up are being held by the Dutch government.
“Our bills have not been paid because our assets have been frozen,” said Faith Gay, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and a member of Prevezon’s U.S.-based defense team, at a conference on Thursday evening before U.S. District Judge William Pauley III of the Southern District of New York.
Prevezon says the Netherlands is holding on to its funds because of a money laundering complaint filed by Hermitage Capital; William Browder, who founded Hermitage, also “instigated” the civil forfeiture case against Prevezon in the Southern District, according to court papers.
About $582,000 of the money defrauded from the treasury is allegedly invested in high-end property in Manhattan’s Financial District.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni of the Southern District told Pauley that Prevezon knew it was accepting the risk of being obligated to pay the settlement by entering into the agreement, but Gay said the risk fell onto the shoulders of the government.
Depending on how the government argues for an enforcement of the judgment, Gay said, her client may consider countering against the government with a claim of “breach of good faith and fair dealing.”
Monteleoni said the government would brief its motion to enforce the judgment within the next week.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristine Phillips and Tara La Morte are also prosecuting the case.