LONDON (Bywire News) - When a lawyer has to deny having been in ‘rape mode’ you know something is amiss. Even so, that’s the position controversial white collar crime lawyer Neil Gerrard finds himself in as he defends himself in the latest stage in a case brought against him by ENRC.
They claim that Gerrard wrongly expanded a case he was brought in to handle in 2010 in order to maximise the fees he earned from them. ENRC hired Gerrard and the law firm Dechert to investigate claims of corruption within the company.
According to their lawsuit, he set out to string the case out for as much as he could – even going so far as to hand over confidential information to the Serious Fraud Office in order to persuade them to initiate an investigation.
The regulator, which is also the subject of lawsuits from ENRC, is currently weighing up whether to press charges against the mining giant.
According to ENRC’s lawyer this week, Gerrard’s set out his intention to consultants involved in the probe describing himself as going into ‘rape mode’ in his pursuit of fees from ENRC. He is said to have ‘rubbed his hands together’ with glee when he read the allegations in the Times.
ENRC claim that he was under pressure to justify the £3million a year deal he had signed with Dechert when they poached him from a rival firm. Gerrard was reliant on ENRC for the bulk of the fees and, according to their representatives, set out to extract as much from them as humanly possible.
They claimed he continually talked up the prospects of an SFO raid as a way of persuading the company to go along with his investigation.
Gerrard has labelled these claims ‘ridiculous’ stating that he would never make such a statement to relative strangers. Although he said he was concerned about the prospects of SFO action, he said, he did not float the suggestion that they would get raided.
““The client was, from an early stage, petrified of a raid . . . As time went on yes, I started to get concerned . . . But I don’t think I ever got the point where I advised them that they were going to get raided.”
He also denies conspiring with the SFO in order to prompt it into action when it appeared to be moving too slowly for his liking.
Meanwhile the SFO is also facing a £70 million lawsuit from ENRC for its role in proceedings. ENRC claims that it initiated an investigation after contact with Gerrard. The SFO refutes this, claiming that Gerrard was not even in the top tier of contacts the regulator had.
The case continues.
(Writing by Tom Cropper, editing by Michael O'Sullivan)