The former head of white-collar crime at international firm Dechert has been accused of lying to the High Court to cover up his relationship with the Serious Fraud Office, following the emergence of previously undisclosed text messages.

Neil Gerrard denied allegations that he was ‘knowingly untruthful’ under oath when quizzed about SFO plans to interview the former head of compliance at Kazakh mining company Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC).

Gerrard was retained by ENRC in 2010 to conduct an internal investigation into allegations of wrongdoing at a subsidiary. ENRC is now suing the ex-partner and Dechert for negligence, alleging Gerrard used its case a ‘cash cow’ to justify his multi-million-dollar salary and that he made unauthorised disclosures to the SFO.

Earlier in the trial, Gerrard told the court that he did not know the SFO intended to conduct a ‘section 2’ interview – a means by which the agency can compel individuals to answer questions – with ENRC’s former head of global compliance, Cary Depel. However, yesterday the court was shown a text message sent from Depel to Gerrard saying: ‘Only you and two know about the section 2’ (sic).

For ENRC, Clare Montgomery QC said: ‘You accept that text demonstrates you knew that he had been section 2-ed?’. Gerrard replied: ‘Yes. I have absolutely no memory of it. But it demonstrates I am on notice.’

Montgomery added: ‘Mr Gerrard, the truth is that you knew full well of the plan to interview Mr Depel under section 2A. You arranged it and you knew when it had taken place, didn’t you?’ The ex-partner replied that he has ‘absolutely no memory of these texts’.

Gerrard told the court that he is suffering from long Covid and his memory is poor. He also claimed that he has suffered from amnesia. ‘I was reminded by my wife in the break I suffered from several bouts of something described as global amnesia,’ he said. This prompted a warning from Mr Justice Waksman not to discuss his evidence outside of court.

Asked whether he should have informed ENRC about the section 2 interview, Gerrard said: ‘I didn’t tell them and so I failed in that duty, yes.’

The trial, which is expected to last through the summer, continues. Dechert and Gerrard deny all wrongdoing, saying they did not act negligently or recklessly, and were not in breach of confidence, of contract or of fiduciary duty towards ENRC. The SFO also denies wrongdoing.