LONDON (Bywire News) - Controversial lawyer Neil Gerrard’s battle against ENRC took another interesting turn as he was accused of lying in court to cover up his role in assisting an SFO investigation.
Gerrard, the former heard of white collar crime at Dechert is currently in court battling claims by his former clients ENRC, that worked with the Serious Fraud Office in order to spark an investigation against the mining giant.
Gerrard had been hired by the company to help with an internal investigation into fraud relating to its African and Kazakh operations. However, ENRC claims Gerrard colluded with the SFO and leaked information to the press in order to maximise his fees.
Gerrard, who retired at the end of last year, admitted he had ‘failed in his duty’ to pass on critical information to the company. In doing so he contradicted previous evidence in which he said he had no knowledge that ENRC’s former head of global compliance, Cary Depel, was being interviewed by the SFO.
However, ENRC’s barrister Clare Montgomery QC, characterised the omission as a “a deliberate untruth and [that Gerrard had] lied to the court”. The judge informed Gerrard that he had the right not to answer questions about his previous evidence.
Freshly disclosed text messages sent to Gerrard in 2012 show that he received a text message from Depel stating:
“Only you and the two know about the section 2 [interview]”. In a section 2 interview, the SFO can compel a person to answer questions which it deems to be relevant to the investigation.
The ‘two’ referred to here are thought to be senior members of the SFO. Gerrard has admitted that he failed in his duty not to pass on that information to ENRC. As a result, he said, “They weren’t on notice so couldn’t react’.
This is not the first time Gerrard has been less than accurate in court. Last year, in a separate case, Gerrard had to issue a corrective statement after claiming to have mis-remembered key details of his evidence.
The case continues.
(Writing by Tom Cropper, editing by Michael O’Sullivan)