UAE fund turns on top City lawyer after dropping hacked emails lawsuit against Iranian-American airline tycoon


Embattled City lawyer Neil Gerrard suffered another blow this week, after his former client, an Emirati sovereign fund, turned on the ex-Dechert partner, after offering to pay $1m to settle its case with a powerful Iranian-American business tycoon.

The fund’s efforts to distance itself from Dechert’s former head of white-collar crime comes after a High Court last month said Gerrard had leaked confidential information about Kazakhstani mining company ENRC to the press, in a bid to bring in more work and maximise his fees.

In a letter seen by City A.M., the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) said it is dropping its lawsuit against Iranian-American airline magnate Farhad Azima, as it offered to pay the businessman $1m to settle his counterclaim over use of hacked emails in a fraud trial involving both Dechert and its ex-senior partner Neil Gerrard.

The letter comes after Azima sued Rakia, Gerrard, and City law firm Dechert over use of hacked emails in a multi-million-pound fraud trial brought forward by the UAE fund – after the Emirati fund lost millions through investments in Azima’s ventures to start a pilot school and hotel.

The fund said it had decided to pull out of the case due to believing that the businessman’s counterclaim is “being funded by third parties who are not concerned about hacking of Mr Azima’s emails but are supporting this litigation as part of a wider campaign against Neil Gerrard and Dechert”.

The UAE sovereign fund claimed that in light of the ENRC ruling it has also come to believe its officers “may have been the victims of dishonest and unscrupulous former third-party advisers who have taken steps to advance their own interests for their own gains, and at Rakia’s expense”.

The Emirati fund said the $1m settlement offer “significantly exceeds the maximum amount that Mr Azima could ever recover in his counterclaim,” as it said the Iranian-American tycoon has not yet responded to its proposal.

The letter comes as former Metropolitan police officer Gerrard faces a raft of legal troubles over allegations he hacked emails and also stands accused of being complicit in the alleged torture of a Jordanian lawyer. Gerrard has strongly denied the allegations.

This week, lawyers from Enyo Law also dropped Gerrard as a client in the hacked email case, as boutique law firm Charles Fussell & Co instead took the London firm’s place. Separately, Clyde & Co also dropped Gerrard as a client in proceedings brought forward by ENRC.

A spokesperson for Dechert LLP said: “The allegations against the Firm are denied and we are defending the claim.”

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