The long-running tussle between the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) took a new turn this week, when the mining company filed a High Court claim against a former prime minister of Kazakhstan, alleging he leaked confidential information to the agency.
In the claim, ENRC accuses Ake-Jean Qajygeldin, prime minister of Kazakhstan between 1994 and 1997, of leaking ‘unlawfully obtained, confidential and, in some instances, legally privileged information belonging to the claimant and concerning the claimant’ to the SFO and the company’s adversaries. Qajygeldin, now a British citizen, lives in exile in London.
In the claim, ENRC states that Qajygeldin received over 40,000 documents and 13,000 emails from an IT consultant who worked at the mining company. The two men then allegedly sold the information for $50,000.
The particulars of claim states that ENRC ‘does not presently know the identity of all the persons or entities to whom its confidential information was disclosed’ but it has ‘grounds to infer’ that the information was passed to the SFO and to litigation opponents in order to ‘damage [ENRC] reputationally and financially’.
ENRC is the subject of an ongoing, six-year SFO investigation into alleged fraud, bribery and corruption. ENRC denies all allegations against it.
Earlier this year, the mining company filed a £70m High Court claim accusing the SFO of misfeasance in public office. Several months after, ENRC accused the SFO of covering its tracks after the agency parked an independent inquiry into the way it handled its investigation.
The SFO has been contacted for comment.