LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Eurasian Natural Resources Company Ltd (‘ENRC’) has today called for an independent inquiry into the ongoing criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (‘SFO’), in order to pursue allegations that the SFO in 2012 received but failed to properly investigate a whistle-blower letter.
The company has also filed an application in the High Court of Justice, London, seeking pre-action disclosure from the SFO, premised on civil proceedings against the SFO for a number of claims including misfeasance in public office.
The whistle-blower letter from July 2012 raised serious concerns for ENRC about the relationship between the SFO and Neil Gerrard, a Partner of Dechert LLP. This letter, addressed to former SFO Director David Green, and other correspondence directly relate to the SFO’s current investigation into ENRC, which has been ongoing since April 2013.
ENRC’s solicitors, Hogan Lovells International LLP, wrote to the SFO with a Freedom of Information request, asking for among other things, details of the steps the SFO took to investigate the allegations raised in the letter.
ENRC claim that the SFO did not follow its own complaints procedure to appoint an independent reviewer. ENRC believes there is a strong public interest in an independent inquiry into properly investigate these matters.
The company has also filed an application seeking pre-action disclosure from the SFO, premised on civil proceedings against the SFO for a number of claims including misfeasance in public office. The application seeks disclosure of, among other things, the notebooks of the SFO's former Chief Investigator, which was not disclosed in previous proceedings between the SFO and ENRC.
ENRC has also issued claims in the High Court of Justice, London, against Dechert LLP and Neil Gerrard, who advised principally on ENRC’s engagement with the SFO between 2011-13. In the Particulars of Claim, which are publicly available, ENRC claims that Dechert and Neil Gerrard acted “negligently”, “in breach of contract” and/or “in breach of fiduciary duties” causing “loss and damage” to ENRC.
These proceedings are separate from the costs proceedings filed by ENRC against Dechert LLP in October 2013.
The new Claim relates to the period of August 2011 until April 2013, when ENRC was listed on the London Stock Exchange, during which Dechert charged over £16 million in legal fees. The Claim also alleges that Mr Gerrard leaked privileged and confidential documents to the press in 2011 and again in 2013. The Claim alleges that the documents formed the basis of an article published in The Times on 9 August 2011, and that the SFO first contacted ENRC the very next day.
Dmitry Egorov, General Counsel for ENRC said: “This new evidence raises serious concerns about the SFO, the unethical behaviour of senior members of staff, and the procedures it did – or did not – follow. We have tried to meet with the SFO to discuss these claims but have so far been refused. We hope this disclosure will force the SFO to answer these important questions.”
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