Salans falls prey as Herbies steals tax ace in Russia drive

Herbert Smith has scooped Russia’s leading tax lawyer in a dual raid on Salans’ Moscow office at a time when tax issues are critical to corporations operating in the country.

Herbert Smith’s Moscow office has hired tax partner Oleg Konnov and corporate M&A partner Alexi Roudiak from Salans.

Following the 2003 arrest and subsequent conviction of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky for tax evasion, tax law has been high on the agenda. Herbert Smith Moscow managing partner Allen Hanen said: “As a Russian-operating corporate you don’t breathe without thinking of your tax position. We can open conversations with clients simply because we now have that tax capability.”

At Salans Konnov, a partner since 2002, advised the Russian parliamentary board on the development of the federation’s tax legislation.

Roudiak, who was made a partner in 2005, advises on corporate real estate, a booming sector for Russia. His clients include Norilski Nickel, the world’s largest nickel producer, and Delta Russia Fund, a US-based investment fund.

“Dynamic Russian corporate partners are like gold dust in this market. [Roudiak] is going to be the driving force of our Russian corporate practice,” said Hanen.

Salans chairman Stephen Finch said: “We’re not a small outfit with 60 lawyers in Moscow and 20 in St Petersburg, and while it’s a pity to lose good lawyers, we’ve got some strong people in place there.”