In Janvey v. Alguire, et al., the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the district court correctly denied motions to compel arbitration filed by employees of an alleged Stanford Ponzi scheme as to the receiver for the entities involved in the scheme.
According to the court, in an effort to unwind the alleged Ponzi scheme, a receiver was appointed for Stanford-related entities to "preserve corporate resources and recover corporate assets that had been transferred in fraudulent conveyances." The receiver sued individuals employed by the entities to recover funds transferred by the entities to the employees. The employees moved for arbitration, relying upon arbitration agreements between the entities and the former employees.
The receiver argued that (1) he (more specifically, a Stanford-related bank) did not agree to arbitrate; (2) the arbitration agreements should be rejected as part of the alleged fraudulent scheme; and (3) there is a conflict between arbitration and the federal receiver's statute's underlying purpose.
The Fifth Circuit agreed with the receiver's first argument and did not reach the receiver's remaining two arguments. Accordingly, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the defendants' motions to compel arbitration on the grounds that the receiver, in choosing to represent the bank involved in the scheme, did not have an agreement to arbitrate because there was no such agreement between the bank and the former employees.
Justice Patrick Higginbotham issued a concurring opinion where he stated that arbitration clauses "may be rejected when they are the instruments of a criminal enterprise, as these arbitration agreements were."
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