11 Dec 2013

Akin Gump role central to collapse of UK bribery trial

A £40m bribery case has collapsed six weeks into the trial after two lawyers from US law firm Akin Gump refused to testify.

Bahrain - bribery allegations Dr Ajay Kumar Singh

The two lawyers, Mark MacDougall and Randy Teslik, were at the heart of a potential conflict of interest relating to the case. They had represented Aluminium Bahrain, the world's fourth biggest aluminium smelter, in a civil lawsuit against the man accused of bribery, Victor Dahdaleh. But, the firm had also been instructed by the prosecutor, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), to investigate the case into Mr Dahdaleh in Bahrain. When Mr Dahdaleh's lawyers asked to cross-examine them they refused.

Refused to attend

Philip Shears, the SFO's lead counsel, told Southwark Crown Court that 'every available step, including a direct telephone conversation' with Kim Koopersmith, chair of Akin Gump, had been taken to resolve the situation. However, he said: 'we have the unwillingness of two witnesses to face cross-examination. That impacts both on fairness of the trial as well as the prospects of conviction.' Neil O'May, Mr Dahdaleh's lawyer, said afterwards that Mr Dahdaleh 'is concerned, and wishes those who have a supervisory role, within the SFO and outside, to consider how it was that part of the investigation was outsourced to a firm of American lawyers who refused to attend court to give a full account of their involvement.' Source: Daily Telegraph

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