By Andrew Smith, Ashley Pigott, Cathy Moore
- In December 2010 a whistle-blower made allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption in respect of Eurasian Natural Resources Corp Ltd’s (ENRC) mining operations in Kazakhstan and Africa. ENRC instructed solicitors to carry out an internal investigation.
- In August 2011 (following press coverage relating to the allegations), the Serious Fraud Office (the SFO) contacted ENRC, confirming it was not carrying out a criminal investigation into the allegations “at that stage” but nevertheless encouraging ENRC to engage and participate in a self-reporting process.
- ENRC’s lawyers conducted the investigation and engaged in discussions with the SFO on ENRC’s behalf.
- In 2013, the SFO commenced a formal investigation into the criminal allegations that had been made. In due course, the SFO sought disclosure of documents generated by ENRC’s lawyers and accountants during ENRC’s internal investigation – ENRC asserted legal professional privilege (LPP).
- These proceedings were commenced by the SFO seeking a declaration that the Disputed Documents (see below) were not subject to LPP and should be disclosed.