Miner ENRC launches $93 million claim against UK Fraud Office

LONDON (Reuters) - Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), a mining company being investigated by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO), has filed a $93 million-plus (£70 million) legal claim against the investigator and prosecutor for alleged wrongful conduct, according to court filings seen by Reuters.

ENRC, co-founded by three billionaire Kazakh businessmen and the Kazakh government, was delisted from the London Stock Exchange in 2013 after the SFO launched an investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption in connection with activities in Kazakhstan and Africa.

The company, which denies any wrongdoing, subsequently levelled its own allegations of potential collusion and cover-up against the SFO, the country’s top white-collar crime investigator and prosecutor.

ENRC, which last year demanded a judicial or independent review of the SFO’s six-year investigation, alleges that SFO staff induced the miner’s former lawyers Dechert to act in breach of contract, according to the court documents stamped March 25.

It also alleged that the SFO failed to act objectively, independently and in good faith and to preserve evidence and respect ENRC’s right to legal professional privilege, under which legal advice to clients remains confidential.

“But for the wrongful conduct, the SFO would not have approached ENRC in August 2011 ... and the SFO would not have pursued a criminal investigation into ENRC from April 2013 onwards,” ENRC stated in the court documents, adding that it had therefore suffered loss and damage.

The SFO declined to comment.

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by David Goodman