Dechert’s former head of white-collar crime has denied dragging out a corruption investigation and warning a client about ‘wholly unrealistic’ risks in order to boost his income from fees.
Neil Gerrard told the commercial court this morning that he never indicated to Dechert how much he would bill when he moved to the firm from DLA Piper in 2011. At the time, Gerrard was retained by Kazakh-based mining giant Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) to conduct an internal investigation into allegations of wrongdoing concerning 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. The Serious Fraud Office is also a respondent in the case.
Under cross-examination, Gerrard denied telling Dechert that he would bring £12m of work. ‘At no stage in any of the discussions that I had with Dechert did I indicate how much I would bill,’ he told Clare Montgomery QC, who is representing ENRC.
The former partner also rejected allegations that he put a quote of £400,000 to ENRC knowing or expecting that he would be able to create a larger investigation off the back of it. ‘My lord nothing could be further from the truth,’ he said. According to ENRC, Gerrard and his team eventually billed $18.4m and Montgomery cited an email written by Gerrard which said: ‘We found great incriminating evidence. So good.’
Gerrard responded by saying the evidence was ‘great’ for ENRC. ‘It’s vital for a corporate to examine issues and concerns that affect it,’ he said.
Montgomery suggested that Gerrard had also raised ‘wholly unrealistic’ issues with ENRC’s audit committee, such as suggesting the company would be delisted as a result of accounting irregularities in a Kazakh-based subsidiary. Gerrard denied this, together with the allegation that he told figures at ENRC that investigators ‘would be going through their wives’ knicker drawers’ during an imminent raid.
The trial continues. The respondents deny all wrongdoing.