Global law firm Baker McKenzie has secured a key win before the US Supreme Court in an international arbitration case testing the scope of US anti-racketeering laws to enforce arbitral awards.
The highest court in the United States ruled in favor of Baker McKenzie client Vitaly Smagin in his efforts to collect a $150 million arbitral award against his former business partner Ashot Yegiazaryan, who defrauded him in a joint real estate investment in Russia more than a decade ago. Smagin also accused a Monaco bank of helping to hide Mr. Yegiazaryan's assets, frustrating Mr. Smagin's attempts to collect on the award.
In a 6-3 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that Smagin can proceed in using RICO laws to claim for civil damages related to collecting on the many millions that he is owed by Yegiazaryan, who is a California resident.
"RICO was created to hold accountable criminal enterprises operating in the United States, like the one created by Mr. Yegiazaryan, to avoid payment of the US judgment issued to Mr. Smagin," said Nick Kennedy, a Partner in Baker McKenzie's North America Litigation & Government Enforcement Practice who argued the case before the US Supreme Court in April. "We are pleased with today's decision, which confirms that criminals like Mr. Yegiazaryan who operate in the United States are not granted a license to defraud victims simply because those individuals happen to live abroad."
The case, which Baker McKenzie has handled for nearly a decade, wove through courts in the UK, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Nevis, Cyprus, and the US.
The Baker McKenzie team representing Smagin was led by Nick Kennedy, Alexander Burch and Allison Rocker. Following today's ruling, the case will now return to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"We look forward to finally holding Mr. Yegiazaryan accountable for his actions and collecting the many millions he owes our client," Nick said.