Advertisement

April 16, 2014

UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Drops High-Profile Corruption Case

The trial of Victor Dahdaleh in London has collapsed due to the absence of key prosecution witnesses.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) recently dropped its case against Victor Dahdaleh, the British-Canadian billionaire accused of paying more than £35 million in bribes to Sheikh Isa bin Ali al-Khalifa of Bahrain. The SFO alleged that the payments were made in return for aluminium supply contracts, worth $3 billion, between Alba, Bahrain’s state-controlled aluminium smelter, and companies represented by Mr Dahdaleh.

The alleged offences were committed prior to the inception of the UK’s Bribery Act 2010, and the SFO therefore sought a conviction under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. Mr Dahdaleh relied on a defence of “principal’s consent” on the basis that the payments were known to and approved by Alba and the Bahraini government and that the payments amounted to typical Bahraini custom and practice. Such a defence is no longer available under the Bribery Act 2010 regime.

During cross-examination at trial, counsel for the SFO conceded that the SFO was unable to offer evidence against Mr Dahdaleh and that, consequently, there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. The lack of evidence arose due to the unavailability of key witnesses, namely lawyers to whose firm the SFO had “delegated” certain aspects of its Bahraini investigation. While conducting enquiries in Bahrain for the SFO, the same law firm was also instructed by Alba to bring civil proceedings against Mr Dahdaleh in the United States.

The SFO is now reportedly seeking a costs order against Mr Dahdaleh’s former lawyers, whilst Mr Dahdeleh is seeking costs from lawyers appointed by the SFO to act in Bahrain.

Implications

The Dahdaleh trial is the most recent of several cases in which the SFO has failed to secure high-profile convictions, including that of property magnate Vincent Tchenguiz in 2012. The outcomes of those cases may reduce the SFO’s confidence when deciding to bring all but the most clear-cut high-profile prosecutions in future.

More generally, the Dahdaleh case demonstrates the importance of ensuring the availability of key witnesses to give live evidence in white collar criminal proceedings. In particular, parties—whether prosecuting or defending—should satisfy themselves at the time of instruction that their lawyers are prepared to give evidence if the need arises.

Copyright © 2014 by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Kevin Robinson, Litigation Attorney, Morgan Lewis, UK, Law Firm
Partner

Kevin Robinson is a partner in Morgan Lewis’s Litigation Practice. Kevin focuses his practice on providing advice related to investigations of commercial activity by frontline regulators and defending enforcement actions or prosecutions that may arise from those investigations. He regularly counsels clients on matters involving Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigations and/or prosecutions; bribery and corruption, including the UK Bribery Act; Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigations, including investigations and prosecutions for cartel activity under the Enterprise Act 2002; and...

+442032015672

About the Author

Nicholas Greenwood, Morgan Lewis Law Firm, Litigation attorney
Partner

Nicholas "Nick" Greenwood is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Litigation Practice. Nick focuses his practice on commercial disputes work involving litigation and arbitration in industries that include private equity, banking and financial services, insurance and reinsurance, property development, and shipping. He has worked on matters involving the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), the ICC, and under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) rules, in addition to handling cases in the Commercial Court, the Chancery Division of the High...

+44 (0)20 3201 5570
Adam Wallin, Litigation, Mediation, Attorney, Morgan Lewis, Law Firm
Associate

Adam Wallin is an associate in Morgan Lewis's Litigation Practice. Adam has experience advising clients involved in litigation, mediation, and arbitration, and his practice covers a range of international commercial disputes.

Since joining Morgan Lewis from another international law firm in 2012, Adam’s work has focussed predominantly on insurance/reinsurance and aviation litigation in the Commercial Court in London. Adam also has experience advising clients on eDisclosure issues.

+442032015539

Boost: AJAX core statistics

Legal Disclaimer

You are responsible for reading, understanding and agreeing to the National Law Review's (NLR’s) and the National Law Forum LLC's  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy before using the National Law Review website. The National Law Review is a free to use, no-log in database of legal and business articles. The content and links on www.NatLawReview.com are intended for general information purposes only. Any legal analysis, legislative updates or other content and links should not be construed as legal or professional advice or a substitute for such advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by the transmission of information between you and the National Law Review website or any of the law firms, attorneys or other professionals or organizations who include content on the National Law Review website. If you require legal or professional advice, kindly contact an attorney or other suitable professional advisor.  

Some states have laws and ethical rules regarding solicitation and advertisement practices by attorneys and/or other professionals. The National Law Review is not a law firm nor is www.NatLawReview.com  intended to be  a referral service for attorneys and/or other professionals. The NLR does not wish, nor does it intend, to solicit the business of anyone or to refer anyone to an attorney or other professional.  NLR does not answer legal questions nor will we refer you to an attorney or other professional if you request such information from us. 

Under certain state laws the following statements may be required on this website and we have included them in order to be in full compliance with these rules. The choice of a lawyer or other professional is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Attorney Advertising Notice: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Statement in compliance with Texas Rules of Professional Conduct. Unless otherwise noted, attorneys are not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, nor can NLR attest to the accuracy of any notation of Legal Specialization or other Professional Credentials.

The National Law Review - National Law Forum LLC 4700 Gilbert Ave. Suite 47 #230 Western Springs, IL 60558  Telephone  (708) 357-3317 If you would ike to contact us via email please click here.