October 2, 2019 / 6:43 PM / 13 days ago

London Dechert lawyer sues surveillance company over spying, hidden cameras

LONDON (Reuters) - A London-based senior Dechert lawyer is suing an intelligence and surveillance company for up to 100,000 pounds ($123,000) in damages for spying on him and his wife over at least 10 months.

Neil Gerrard, Dechert’s global co-head of white collar and securities litigation, alleges that Diligence International staff hid video cameras on his property, followed him to work and a restaurant and attempted to track him on a family holiday to a private Caribbean island by pretending to be his nephews.

Diligence International, a corporate intelligence firm once used to track fugitive Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, did not respond to requests for comment.

The spying claim, dated Sept. 6 but seen by Reuters on Wednesday, comes one day after Credit Suisse cleared its CEO of snooping on a star wealth manager in an episode that saw suicide, scandal and espionage invade the secretive world of Swiss private banking.

Diligence’s operatives boarded the same plane to St Lucia that Gerrard and his wife Ann had booked in January but aroused suspicion when claiming to be Gerrard’s nephews and were barred from entry to the island, according to the London lawsuit.

A third operative was intercepted by authorities at St Lucia airport and interviewed, but stated he was going on a holiday.

According to court documents, he was carrying a large amount of electronic equipment, including a camera adjusted for night vision use, and was also denied entry to the island.

After the Gerrards returned to London, at least two of the operatives were interviewed by British police. One disclosed that he worked for Diligence and was carrying out surveillance on Gerrard to identify his associates, the lawsuit alleges. He declined to disclose who had instructed Diligence.

Gerrard was a former lawyer for ENRC (Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation), the Kazakh miner being investigated by the UK Serious Fraud Office amid allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption.

ENRC, which denies any wrongdoing, has brought legal proceedings against Dechert and Gerrard, alleging breach of contract, fiduciary duty and negligence and has accused the firm of overcharging for its services.

Dechert, which had been hired by ENRC to conduct an internal investigation into allegations of wrongdoing, has said it stands by its work. A spokesman for ENRC was not immediately available for comment.

($1 = 0.8127 pounds)

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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