In an opinion yesterday, Judge Furman upheld an arbitration award worth over $200 million in favor of a company affiliated with Israeli businessman Lev Leviev, and against his former partners in a series of diamond businesses. The former business partners argued that the award should be set aside because one of the arbitrators was convicted of tax offenses in Belgium while the case was ongoing, and had not disclosed from the outset that the charges were pending. Judge Furman, quoting a Seventh Circuit opinion from Judge Posner, disagreed:
A judge’s decisions are not voidable on the basis of an undisclosed criminal conviction, even in a capital case, if the conviction had no impact on the decision, and we do not see why a stricter rule should apply in arbitration, especially since the standard due process entitlement to an impartial tribunal is relaxed when the tribunal is an arbitral tribunal rather than a court.
Steptoe & Johnson represented the petitioner in successfully obtaining the award’s confirmation.