Portland attorney faces bar discipline over marijuana firm that made him wealthy

Iris Capital timeline

2011 to 2014: Oregon investment manager Shayne Kniss raises $5 million from Oregon retirees for real estate investments. Nick Slinde takes a 15% stake in the marijuana business in exchange for legal work for Iris.

2015: Kniss shutters Iris to focus on marijuana startups; investors stop receiving monthly distributions. Oregon judge appoints a receiver to take control of Iris and recover any available funds for investors.

2016: Portland investor Nitin Khanna and his brother buy the marijuana business from the Iris estate for $519,000; Nick Slinde, who has frequently represented Khanna, retains a stake in the marijuana business, later known as Cura Cannabis, or Select.

2018: Federal prosecutors charge Kniss with wire fraud; he pleads guilty to a single count.

2019: Kniss sentenced to three years in federal prison. He files a bar complaint against Slinde, alleging the lawyer had a conflict of interest by negotiating on behalf of Iris and the marijuana business, in which Slinde had a stake, simultaneously. Cura, the marijuana business, agrees to a $1 billion, all-stock sale to a Massachusetts company, Curaleaf.

2020: Cura completes its sale, but following a sharp decline in Curaleaf’s share price the deal is now worth about $400 million.

2022: Khanna, Slinde and others sued by Curaleaf’s chairman over an alleged $60 million securities fraud over the launch of a separate wellness business called Sentia. Slinde served as Sentia’s general counsel. Oregon State Bar begins disciplinary proceedings against Slinde.

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