Italian law firms set to be drawn into Cirio furore

Further law firms may be forced to hand over client documents, after the Rome office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer handed over papers to Italian state prosecutors in relation to their investigation into high profile businessman Sergio Cragnotti.

Cragnotti is perhaps best known as the former chairman of football club Lazio. His food empire, Cirio, was an international company that had stakes in Lazio and food giant Del Monte, amongst others. Cirio has been in financial difficulties for some time. It filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

Freshfields had only been acting for Cragnotti and his family company since the beginning of 2003. Cragnotti had previously been advised by a number of firms, in particular Skadden Arps ally Chiomenti, which did a large proportion of the Lazio work.

Freshfields was introduced to the client by local merchant bank Livolsi, which was advising Cirio on financial restructuring.

There is no suggestion that Freshfields is itself under investigation.