The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has issued an arrest warrant for the chief executive of mining company the Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), a subsiduary of which is at the centre of a current court case over legal professional privilege.  

In a statement on Friday the office said it was taking the ‘rare but necessary step’ because Benedikt Sobotka had failed to appear for questioning in an ‘ongoing corruption investigation into Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) and related companies’. ERG the parent company of ENRC.

The SFO’s investigation into ENRC is focused on allegations of serious fraud, bribery and corruption in relation to the acquisition of substantial mineral assets. ENRC denies the allegations and, as yet, no charges have been brought. The SFO said Sobotka is not a suspect in the corruption investigation.

Sobotka, 37, is wanted for prosecution of an offence of failing to comply with a direction, contrary to sections 2 and 13 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987. According to the SFO, failing to comply with a notice and appear for interview to answer questions without reasonable excuse carries a prison sentence of up to six months and an unlimited fine.

A separate battle between the SFO and ENRC which surrounds legal professional privilege has just been heard in the Court of Appeal. ENRC is appealing a High Court order which supported the SFO’s belief that confidential documents ENRC prepared for its own internal investigation should not be covered by privilege.

The Law Society intervened in the case in support of privilege.