ENRC private eye leaked corruption story at lawyer's request, he tells London court

14 Jun 2021 12:00 am by Martin Coyle

Mining

A private investigator working for Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation said today that he leaked confidential information to the press about corruption allegations involving the mining company on behalf of former Dechert lawyer Neil Gerrard.

Cameron Findlay, a former policeman who worked as a security consultant for ENRC, was giving evidence at the High Court in London in the ongoing civil case that the Kazakh-focused mining and resources giant has brought against the Serious Fraud Office, its former law firm Dechert, and Gerrard.

Findlay today described himself as Gerrard's "bag man," whose job was to run around at the lawyer's whim.

ENRC claims that the SFO induced Dechert and Gerrard to act against it, and that Gerrard leaked information to the agency to help ramp up a probe into suspected corruption involving the miner. The SFO, Dechert and Gerrard deny the claims.

In a witness statement supplied to the court today, Findlay said that in June 2011 Gerrard was frustrated about an internal corruption investigation and that he wanted ENRC to self-report issues to the SFO to “kickstart” a probe.

Gerrard said that it was a good idea to place material in the press to turn the “heat" up on the company and make it more willing to expand the probe, Findlay’s statement said. Gerrard handed Findlay an envelope, which was subsequently handed to a journalist via another investigator, containing information about ENRC.

This led to an article published in The Times in August 2011 which pointed to corruption claims involving ENRC. This caused “mayhem” and “finger pointing” at ENRC, Findlay’s statement said, and led to the SFO writing to the company.

At a later lunch with Gerrard, Findlay said the lawyer was pleased with the outcome of the leak. “I saw him rubbing his hands together (at chest level), and he said 'Right boys, I'm in rape mode.' This moment is indelibly printed on my mind. Once he sat down, Mr Gerrard  … explained that, now that all the key people from his team at DLA Piper were in place at Dechert, he was aiming to "screw these f*****s [i.e. ENRC] for 25 million,' " Findlay's statement said.

Findlay told the court today that he initially got on well with Gerrard before the lawyer moved from rival law firm DLA Piper to Dechert in mid-2011. “Our relationship changed profoundly. He was massively under pressure. He was irascible, intolerant, rude and abrasive.”

Nick Purnell, representing Dechert, asked whether those terms applied to his own conduct at the time. “No,” said Findlay.

Findlay and Gerrard had a “furious argument” following the leak, after it emerged that the leaked material contained distinctive notes in the margins, which Gerrard believed could be traced back to him. “I remember saying to him 'What the f*** do you think we were up to, Neil?' (or words to that effect),” Findlay’s statement said.

He said Gerrard told him that the SFO would be happy if a couple of ENRC middle managers were “thrown under the bus” and the company was fined 5 million pounds to 10 million pounds ($7 million to $14 million).

“I remember Mr Gerrard telling me that the SFO measured the success of an investigation 'by the kilo', i.e. by how lengthy the final report was. He told me that he and others working on the investigation could rack up significant fees in the process, but ultimately get a result where everyone would be happy (i.e. the SFO, ENRC and ENRC's advisers, including Dechert).”

Findlay is still working for ENRC on a contract basis, earning more than 21,000 pounds a month, his witness statement confirmed.

The SFO investigation into ENRC, which formally began in 2013, continues. No one at the company or the company itself has been charged with any offenses.

The case continues.

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