LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) – A former high-ranking Dechert lawyer on Monday called allegations that he had plotted not to tell mining company ENRC, his former client, that the Serious Fraud Office ( SFO) British wanted to compel an executive to attend an interview.
Neil Gerrard, accused by ENRC in a trial in the High Court in London of conspiring with senior SFO officers to harm his client, milking ENRC for unnecessary costs and leaking privileged material, said said it was ridiculous to suggest that he and his team withheld information from ENRC after an OFS meeting in 2012.
“I think it’s crazy,” he told the court on the first day of a scheduled six-day cross-examination. “Completely crazy.
Gerrard, hired by ENRC in 2010 to conduct an internal investigation into a whistleblower report, denied claims he disclosed sensitive information or that he “terrorized” ENRC by suggesting it could be searched by authorities .
“The raid procedures or the handling of unannounced visits were, in our opinion,… sound risk management procedures,” he said. “It helped the clients, it helped the advisors.”
When asked if ENRC was really at risk of a raid, he replied:
“At this point, we had no idea. The client certainly thought he was in danger.”
The SFO opened an investigation into ENRC in 2013 into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption surrounding the acquisition of mining assets in Africa. No charges have been filed against the company or any current or former officers.
ENRC, which was co-founded by three Kazakh billionaire businessmen and the Kazakh government, also alleges that the SFO instigated and abetted Gerrard’s conduct because he was “desperate” to get a corporate scalp prominent and accuses the agency of embezzlement in the public service.
Gerrard, Dechert and the SFO deny wrongdoing. Former OFS director David Green is expected to testify later in the 11-week trial.
Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; edited by David Evans
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