Simmons & Simmons partner mounts defence against felony indictment

US defence lawyers acting for Simmons & Simmons partner David Sandy will fight attempts by the New York District Attorney (DANY) to prosecute him by arguing that the DANY is wrong on both jurisdictional and legal grounds.

Steven Weiss, a partner in Sandy's defence team at New York firm Weil Gotshal & Manges, says: “We will certainly file substantial motions. In our view, this is a most unprecedented prosecution, both on jurisdictional grounds and on the grounds of legal theory.”

Threatened with extradition, Sandy flew voluntarily to New York. He was arrested at the airport and arraigned in New York State Supreme Court on an indictment relating to the DANY's investigations into the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

He was arraigned on two felony counts of tampering with physical evidence and a misdemeanor count of conspiracy in the fifth degree.

Sandy pleaded not guilty and was paroled. The case was adjourned until 21 April, when pre-trial hearings start. It is not yet set down for trial. He was not bailed and is free to travel.

Sandy and six others, including four unnamed Simmons & Simmons partners, are accused of illegal suppression of the diary of BCCI chief executive Zafar Iqbal, which was sought by the DANY. It is thought to contain information relevant to the investigation.

The Sandy case led to Simmons & Simmons resigning its highly-prized four-year role as adviser to the BCCI majority shareholders in Abu Dhabi and handing over to Macfarlanes.

Macfarlanes may land huge amounts of work once the appeal period for the agreed global settlement ends next month.

The Solicitors Complaints Bureau has been investigating the Sandy case since January.

Simmons & Simmons faces criticism for its handling of the crisis in the media.

One legal marketing director says: “They could have said there is no case to answer, or that they stand by their partner. If they choose to not say that, the inevitable question is why not.”