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Civil Fraud

Civil fraud is a truly multi-disciplinary subject, spanning the legal spectrum across the fields of company, insolvency, banking and finance and conflict of laws. Members of 20 Essex Street Chambers offer the highest level of expertise in the area, many having appeared in leading cases such as the BTA Bank v Ablyazov and VTB v Nutritek litigations and more recently cases such as Petrom v Glencore, Orb v Andrew Ruhan, and Gaydamak v Leviev. The set’s strategic expansion over the last three years enables it to offer the full breadth and depth of legal expertise necessary for the successful conduct of large fraud cases both at trial and in extensive interlocutory applications such as obtaining and resisting worldwide freezing injunctions.

Barristers at 20 Essex Street Chambers have considerable experience with CIS disputes, claims arising from emerging markets, and energy and natural resources-related cases, both in the English courts and other jurisdictions. Members can work seamlessly as part of large teams of international lawyers, forensic accountants, private investigators, and IT specialists (including in off-shore jurisdictions such as Bermuda, Cayman and the BVI).

At all levels, barristers at 20 Essex Street Chambers are accustomed to the advisory aspects of civil fraud on both an individual and team basis, and are sensitive to the need to develop and implement an effective overall strategy at an early stage – particularly in order to secure the recovery of assets. They regularly act in and advise on matters concerning:

  • Misappropriation of company assets
  • Dishonest conspiracy
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Bogus investment schemes
  • Piercing the corporate veil
  • Fraud by agents
  • Government corruption in commercial contracts

The set’s clerks can assist in finding the most suitable barristers in each case, and large teams can be assembled at speed in order to respond to rapidly developing factual scenarios. All members are happy to act on urgent instructions.

Recent cases of note include:

The BTA Bank v Ablyazov litigation – one of the largest fraud cases ever heard by the English courts arising out of a multi-billion dollar set of claims brought by a Kazakh bank against its former owner and chairman.

VTB Capital v Nutritek – oligarch accused of fraud by VTB and against whom a worldwide freezing order had been obtained.

Petrom v Glencore – a US$40 million claim in in which Petrom successfully contended that Glencore had systematically defrauded it over a period of 4 years during the mid-1990s.

"Maxwell" (recovering pension fund assets on behalf of the "Maxwell Pensioners")

Sabbagh v Khoury & Ors – Conspiracy claim valued at approximately $600m brought in the Commercial Court by the daughter of the founder of the CCC Group of companies against her brothers, other family members and business associates.

Gaydamak v Leviev - US$2 billion claim alleging breach of trust and conspiracy in relation to a joint venture for the export of Angolan diamonds.  Acting for Leviev, had the whole claim struck out as an abuse of process. 

The Hut Group Limited v Nobahar-Cookson - Business acquisition dispute involving claims for breach of warranty on each side (totalling around £25m) and allegations of fraud on the Defendant’s counterclaim. 

BCCI (on behalf of the majority shareholders of the bank and Sheik Al Zayad, the then Ruler of Abu Dhabi).

Alpha Bank and Emporiki Bank v Zoi Kouyioumtzopoulou - Acting for two leading Greek banks in a Commercial Court dispute concerning the interplay of a freezing injunction in the UK with insolvency proceedings in Greece.

Robert Lee v EFG Private Bank - multi-million pound banking dispute in the Commercial Court concerning a complex financial product which it is alleged was fraudulently mis-sold to a former England international footballer.

Shepherds Select Funds plc v Abraham & others – The claimant investment fund was the victim of fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty by one of its directors resulting in losses estimated at US$15 million. The case involved numerous difficult points concerning causation, quantification of loss and damage, and the scope of an adviser’s duties to an investment fund.

A long-running international arbitration at the heart of which is a battle for control of a strategic Russian company in which a major shareholder has accused another major shareholder of fraudulently concealing improper steps taken to gain control.

Glitnir v Johannesson - advising the Defendant in relation to part of the fall-out from the Icelandic banking collapse.  Deft was a major shareholder in Claimant bank and was accused of fraudulently procuring transfer of funds from the Claimant Bank to Defendant. 

Newland Shipping v Toba Trading - Claim that contracts for sale of petroleum products to Iran procured by fraudulent conspiracy.  involves issues regarding piercing the corporate veil and “relief from sanctions” issues  raised by the recent CA authorities of Mitchell  and Dentons.

Dynami v Bechdach (& Ors) - $36m Commercial Court claim for deceit/breach of warranty brought against the vendors of a power generation barge. 

Aghadzhan Avanesov v Too Shymkentpivo - Advising and representing the Kazakh purchasers of shares in an Uzbek bank in relation to a USD18m claim for fraudulent misrepresentation.

Inland Revenue Commissioners v Nissan UK Limited (on behalf of the company in relation to allegations of substantial tax fraud).

"Barings" (on behalf of bondholders in relation to litigation to recover assets and other issues arising upon the collapse of the bank following the Nick Leeson fraud).

Saad Investments Company Limited v Al-Sanea (on behalf of the liquidators of the Cayman Island companies).

State of Brunei Darussalam v His Royal Highness - Prince Jefri Bolkiah (on behalf of the State and Government of Brunei Darussalam and the Brunei Investment Agency in worldwide litigation to recover misappropriated State assets).

EFT Holdings Inc v Marinteknik Shipbuilders (before the Singapore High Court and Court of Appeal) – one of the leading Commonwealth cases on the requirements of the tort of conspiracy by unlawful means.

Re Claim Credit Services Limited - Application for freezing injunctions against English domiciled beneficial owners of Belizean companies and 2 Belizean companies following the collapse of an English claims management company.

Global Energy Horizons Corp v Gray (acting for the defendant in relation to allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and appropriation of a corporate opportunity).

Gramsci v Recoletos & Others

Orb v Andrew Ruhan & Others - £225 million claim against entrepreneur and F1 investor Andrew Ruhan for failure to pay a share in the profit realised from the development and sale of a portfolio of luxury London and country house hotels.

City of Gotha v Sotheby's (No. 2) - recovery of stolen art.

Akande v. Balfour Beatty - setting aside registered Nigerian judgment for fraud.

News International v Klinger

Members practising within this area: