Mayer Brown back in hot seat over Refco

Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw (MBRM) has been hit by yet another claim resulting from the bankruptcy of commodities trader Refco.

The $2bn (£1bn) claim names MBRM and 25 other respondents – including Ernst & Young and Bank of America – for their alleged role “in a massive scheme to loot Refco – a scheme that resulted in one of the swiftest corporate meltdowns in US history and caused Refco over $2bn in damages”.

The claim was filed yesterday in an Illinois court by a court-appointed trustee of the Refco Litigation Fund, which aims to recover funds for Refco’s creditors.

The respondents were Refco’s advisers on its $583m (£293.5m) IPO in 2005. It is understood that MBRM is being advised by Williams & Connolly.

The trustee, Marc Kirschner, is being advised by Grippo & Elden.

In a statement, MBRM’s general counsel Mark McLaughlin said: “This suit is premised upon the bankruptcy examiner’s report which acknowledged that ‘[s]everal significant factual and legal defenses are potentially available to all parties against whom claims may be asserted’.

“We intend to assert all available defenses and defend ourselves with vigor. We are confident of a positive resolution,” it continued.

MBRM faced a another claim from private equity house Thomas H Lee last month (, 27 July) alleging a cover-up.

Although MBRM denies the allegations, it had girded itself against a potential suit ever since a bankruptcy examiner’s report in early July found that the firm had advised on 17 loan schemes that concealed the extent of Refco’s debt.

MBRM also turned to Williams & Connolly in the earlier claim, while Lee looked to Weil Gotshal & Manges.