Controversial lawyer Neil Gerrard Steps Down from Dechert

A leading lawyer at the centre of a major international controversy surrounding cybercrime, espionage and torture is set to retire at the end of this year, just months prior to a landmark case set to be heard in June 2021 at the High Court.


High Court of Justice, London, UK. Credit: Alex Segre / Alamy Stock Photo
High Court of Justice, London, UK. Credit: Alex Segre / Alamy Stock Photo

LONDON (WithinTheLaw) - Neil Gerrard, co-head of white-collar crime at London based law firm Dechert is set to retire at the end of a year which has seen him accused of corporate espionage, cyber-crime, and torture.

Gerrard will be 66 at the end of the year, and it is the firm’s policy to retire partners around that age. However, it comes at a time when Gerrard has been involved in a series of high-profile cases and disputes which have included some remarkable accusations.

The first is with his former client the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), who accused him of having leaked privileged and sensitive documents to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the media while still representing them. The allegations also include breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. The case is due to be heard in the High Court in June 2021.

In a separate case, Gerrard has also been accused by a Jordanian detainee, Karam Al Sadeq, who was recently convicted of fraud against the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA). Al Sadeq accused Gerrard of using torture, intimidation and coercing him into “agreeing to give false evidence.” Al Sadeq has maintained his innocence throughout.

In a more recent development. Dechert has been ordered to hand over documents relating to its treatment of Sadeq after Gerrard revealed during cross-examination that a journalist had attempted to investigate human rights abuses at RAK in 2015, and that he had reported this to the main board at Dechert. In the same case, Gerrard filed a corrective witness statement because he had mis-remembered key details of the case under cross examination. 

The presiding judge remarked in his addendum that he “[did] not consider that Mr Gerrard has given an entirely satisfactory explanation for either the inaccuracies in his evidence in cross-examination or for the delay in providing corrective evidence. There was in this case, as noted above, a substantive issue of the utmost seriousness as to whether Dechert and Mr Gerrard personally had been involved in human rights abuses involving detainees in RAK”

Both RAKIA and Gerrard also faced accusations from aviation magnate and former CIA operative Farhad Azima who claimed that that Gerrard and RAKIA had relied on confidential data which had been illegally hacked from his computer.

The claims were dismissed by the judge who eventually found against Azima. However, the judge also rejected RAKIA’s explanation for how they came into possession of the documents. 

Gerrard also led the team which advised Airbus, who agreed a high-profile deferred prosecution agreement with the SFO worth approx. £887million. The case was about an investigation into allegations of corruption, fraud and bribery brought by the SFO which saw Airbus agree to pay a €3.6 billion settlement to regulators in the UK, France and US. 

U.S. based white collar co-heads David Kelley and David Kisenbroker will continue to lead the firm’s global practice according to sources, but Gerrard leaves Dechert with more questions than answers about the murky world of corporate investigations.

Sources close to the law firm have claimed that fellow partners are said to be “relieved” that Gerrard is retiring, given “both the financial and reputational damage” caused to Dechert due to his alleged misdeeds.

Mr Gerrard, Dechert and the SFO have denied, and continue to deny all the allegations against them, setting the stage for a landmark case in June 2021.

 

(Written by Tom Cropper, edited by Michael O'Sullivan)

 

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