Ashurst and Clifford Chance are gearing up to face each other in the High Court next week (4 October) as the final stage of the Sumitomo fraud scandal comes to trial.
Ashurst’s head of construction and general commercial fraud specialist Chris Vigrass is leading the team representing Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation in its $1.1bn (£614.9m) claim against Crédit Lyonnais Rouse, a subsidiary of French bank Crédit Lyonnais, represented by Clifford Chance.
Sumitomo alleges that Crédit Lyonnais Rouse dishonestly assisted convicted fraudster Yasuo Hamanaka in unauthorised transactions. Crédit Lyonnais Rouse was the clearing broker for transactions entered into by Hamanaka.
At the core of Sumitomo’s allegations are trades that took place in 1993. On 25 June that year, Sumitomo suffered a $40m (£22.4m) loss from a trade carried out by Hamanaka. The company’s case is that it should have been obvious to the brokers that the trade was not approved by senior management.
Sumitomo also claims that the $289m (£161.6m) proceeds of the sale of options to the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company later that year were processed via Crédit Lyonnais Rouse instead of being sent directly to Sumitomo UK.
The trial, before Mr Justice Cooke, is expected to last 30 weeks. Vigrass said: “It’s a long trial and there’s going to be a lot of witnesses. A lot of the evidence is going to be given through interpreters. I’ve been doing this for the last four years, so it’s nice to see it come to fruition.”
Ashurst is instructing Christopher Carr QC of One Essex Court. Serle Court’s Michael Briggs QC has been instructed by Clifford Chance commercial litigation partner Matthew Newick.