Portofino contends that the crypto dispute with Citadel Securities should be settled in England, not New York. Additionally, they strongly advocate for the dismissal of the lawsuit filed against them.
Moreover, this strategic move is grounded in the fact that both the main stakeholders and Portofino itself are European entities. They either originate from England or Switzerland. This position was articulated in a filing made on Tuesday.
Leonard Lancia and Alex Casimo, co-founders of Portofino, have ties to Citadel Europe. This places the alleged transgressions within European jurisdiction.
Furthermore, in May, allegations surfaced that Lancia and Casimo had unlawfully accessed Citadel Securities’ proprietary information during their venture’s launch. In response, Citadel Securities aims to bring them to trial to determine monetary liabilities and potential restitution.
Portofino’s legal representative responds to the trade secret claims by emphasizing the absence of substantial evidence. They argue that Lancia and Casimo are inherently incapable of participating in any High-Frequency Trading (HFT) market-making.
This limitation applies regardless of the financial instruments they deal with. The reason for this incapability is their inability to do so without appropriating trade secrets. Consequently, Portofino’s counsel asserts that this is an effort to intimidate other Citadel Securities employees who may be contemplating leaving.
The lawyer emphasized, “Plaintiffs don’t have absolute control over their workforce and their employees’ skills.”
Citadel Securities Launches Lawsuit Against Portofino Amid Arbitration Dispute
Portofino, established just a year ago, specializes in high-frequency trading technology for digital assets. The company asserts to have transacted billions of dollars across both centralized and decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as over-the-counter markets.
Previously, in June 2022, Citadel Europe commenced arbitration proceedings against Lancia and Casimo in London, as disclosed in Tuesday’s filing.
Nearly a year later, expressing apparent dissatisfaction with the London arbitration process, Citadel Europe and its American affiliates initiated this lawsuit. The lawsuit is marked by unsubstantiated insinuations, strategic distortions, and overt untruths, as noted by the lawyer.
However, if the New York court chooses not to dismiss the case, the request is for it to be put on hold. This would be pending the outcome of the London arbitration, which is set for May 2024, as detailed in the filing.
In a revised complaint filed in July, Citadel Securities attorneys asserted that Portofino’s founders had praised their workforce’s experience at Citadel Securities. They also claimed that the founders expressed intentions to expand operations in New York.
However, Portofino failed to disclose that Leonard and Alex undertook a bold endeavor to establish and launch the company. This endeavor involved an attempt to appropriate Citadel Securities’ trade secrets, deceive their colleagues, and entice employees away from the firm.
According to a Citadel Securities spokesperson, Lancia and Casimo clandestinely orchestrated the establishment and launch of a cryptocurrency market-making firm while still employed by Citadel Securities.
The spokesperson emphasized, “We have a lengthy history of supporting employees who choose to start their own ventures. However, when they engage in overt deception to do so, we will hold them accountable.”