Magic circle heavyweight Linklaters was today publicly called out for its refusal to cooperate with enquiries into Russian corruption. The global firm was named in the House of Commons foreign affairs committee report on Russia’s stake in the UK and the associated risk to national security.
Linklaters was specifically asked for insight on the flotation of energy firm En+ Group on the London Stock Exchange last November. The listing was facilitated by Linklaters but the firm refused to appear before the committee to give further information on the regulatory framework that allowed it to happen.
The report said: ‘We regret their unwillingness to engage with our inquiry and must leave others to judge whether their work “at the forefront of financial, corporate and commercial developments in Russia” has left them so entwined in the corruption of the Kremlin and its supporters that they are no longer able to meet the standards expected of a UK regulated law firm.’
The committee stressed there was ‘no obvious evidence’ of impropriety in a legal sense in the flotation, but the ease with which it appeared to happen could encourage President Putin and his associates that money supporting Russian state aggression was ‘safe and welcome’ in London.
The report said the use of the UK capital as a base for the corrupt assets of Kremlin-connected individuals was clearly linked to a wider Russian strategy and has implications for UK national security.
Assets stored and laundered in London both directly and indirectly support Putin’s campaign to subvert the international rules-based system and undermine our allies and international networks, said MPs.
The report added: ‘Turning a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption risks signalling that the UK is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of President Putin’s offensive measures.’
In a statement tonight, Linklaters said: 'We’re very surprised and concerned at the passing criticism of Linklaters in the report. We reject any suggestion based solely on the fact that we - like dozens of other international firms - operate in a particular market that our services may somehow involve the firm in corruption, state-related or otherwise.
\As a leading global law firm, Linklaters adheres to the highest standards of business conduct, ensuring we comply with applicable laws and professional rules, including with respect to anti-bribery and corruption, anti-money laundering and sanctions.'