The long running dispute between mining company Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) shows no sign of abating with updated court documents containing new allegations surrounding the office’s use of information leaked via ’brown envelope’.
In court documents filed last week, ENRC alleges that the SFO ‘received and used’ confidential and privileged material during its five-year investigation into allegations of corruption, which ENRC denies. International firm Hogan Lovells, acting for ENRC, claims in the document that in August 2013 the SFO received extra evidence from another international firm, Dechert, ENRC's former adviser.
The claims appear in an amended statement of facts and grounds for judicial review. Its submission follows an initial request for judical review, filed by ENRC in October. In that request, ENRC asked for an independent review of the SFO’s handling of evidence.
In the updated claim, it is alleged that prosecutors at the SFO were handed confidential material which was fed into its investigations despite being privileged.
The amended complaint states: ‘This concern raises serious questions about the SFO’s improper receipt of the claimant’s confidential information, what it knew about the nature of those materials and what it did with them subsequently.’
The amended paper, seen by the Gazette, claims the material was handed to the SFO’s then senior prosecutor James Coussey in 2013. According to the paper the SFO said that the material was 'acquired from [Dechert partner] Neil Gerrard’.
According to the latest court document, five years after it received the documents the SFO decided to ‘blue bag’ the material and instruct counsel to conduct an independent review to establish whether it contained privileged material. The review concluded the documents were privileged at least in part.
ENRC denies any wrongdoing and no charges have been brought.
A spokesperson for ENRC said: ’It is disgraceful that the company’s former solicitor was prepared to leak privileged documents in a brown envelope, and equally disgraceful that the SFO was willing to accept and use such material. Having concealed this serious wrongdoing for over five years, it is shocking that the SFO should now be backtracking on its previous commitment to launch a properly independent and impartial investigation.’
Both Dechert and the SFO declined to comment on the latest developments.