The Serious Fraud Office has parked an inquiry into the way it handled its investigation into Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation in a decision the mining company described as 'regrettable'. The investigation prompted lengthy litigation over legal professional privilege.
According to press reports at the weekend, the former director of public prosecutions, Sir David Calvert-Smith, has been told to abandon his review of the SFO’s long-running investigation.
The probe was dropped after ENRC brought civil claims against the SFO earlier this year. According to the mining company, the SFO said that there would be too much overlap between the two cases to justify the expense of the Calvert-Smith review.
A spokesperson for ENRC said: ‘It is regrettable and troubling that now, when Sir David was finally close to calling witnesses, the SFO is prepared to dump the review in blatant disregard of the public interest and significant implications for the legitimacy of the ongoing criminal investigation.
‘ENRC is necessarily concerned that the SFO’s actual motivation to halt the review is a fear that it will uncover information or evidence that will expose serious wrongdoings by the SFO and its officers and undermine the SFO’s position in the misfeasance claim against it.’
The SFO told the Gazette it has halted the review until the completion of the civil case at the High Court. It added that the review will be revisited upon completion of the civil trial, rather than dropped entirely.
The SFO's criminal investigation is still ongoing. ENRC denies any wrongdoing.