A conservative peer helped a Russian shipping group get a Venezuelan billionaire’s confidential bank records in a “dubious” deal, according to new allegations raised during a $ 91 million lawsuit before the London High Court.
Nicholas Fairfax is said to have arranged a payment of $ 300,000 to Andrew Longhurst, a former executive at Maroil Trading – a company of Venezuelan shipping magnate Wilmer Ruperti – in exchange for a cache of private documents related to Mr. Ruperti.
The new allegations became known during the pre-trial hearings for a lawsuit involving Daniel Hall, a high-profile lawyer Corporate debtor Burford Capital has also been accused of illegally protecting Mr. Ruperti’s private documents against a Sex video with the US oil billionaire Harry Sargeant III.
The case highlighted the controversial, high-profile nature of asset tracing, a small but important division in Burford that is better known for raising lawsuits against a cut in proceeds.
Before the activist hedge fund attacked, Burford was the largest stock in the British junior aim market Muddy water In terms of governance and accounting, the share price halved in the past year.
The lawsuit will also help to examine Lord Fairfax’s work for the British branch of the Sovcomflot Group, a Russian state-owned shipping company.
In 2018, he was one of two conservative colleagues who were accused of “asking for government support for Russian employees” after a letter from the security minister to Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. An investigation by the House of Lords Standards Officer cleared Lord Fairfax of all these allegations.
Lord Fairfax, who inherited his title and has been with the House of Lords since 2015, is involved in the case due to his roles as director of Sovcomflot UK and a former advisor to Burford Capital. Both roles were listed in the House of Lords register of interests. Lord Fairfax declined to comment on the trial.
According to allegations made during this month’s pre-trial hearings, Lord Fairfax has arranged for $ 300,000 to be paid to Mr. Longhurst in his role as director of Sovcomflot UK.
Court documents filed as part of the proceedings included an email Lord Fairfax sent to Mr. Longhurst in 2014 saying that Sovcomflot would “exchange” for relevant information in your possession about historical activities and financial performance from Wilmer Ruperti and his companies ”. The payment was constructed as an agreement for Sovcomflot to pay Mr. Longhurst’s wages that he allegedly owed to Mr. Ruperti.
Following allegations in court files, Sovcomflot wanted Mr. Ruperti’s bank records as part of his efforts to take legal action to force him to pay an apparent debt of approximately $ 100 million.
Sovcomflot had hired Mr. Hall, co-director of the Asset Tracking and Enforcement Department at Burford, to recover the money. The day after Lord Fairfax sent the email, Mr. Longhurst sent Mr. Hall 700 pages of documents and 5 GB of data on a hard drive related to Mr. Ruperti’s bank accounts. The documents were used to initiate a lawsuit against Mr. Ruperti in Switzerland, after which he agreed to pay unpaid debts to Sovcomflot companies, people close to the case. Mr. Ruperti declined to comment.
Mr. Hall seemed to boast of having received Mr. Longhurst’s documents during a presentation he gave two years later, in 2016, at the C5 Miami Asset Fraud and Tracing Conference YouTube video Mr. Hall’s speech was presented as evidence in the High Court case. In it, Mr. Hall said: “I have built a relationship, we got on very well. I went to his house and ate his wife’s cookies. I assured them that if he helped, everything would be fine. And in the end he gave me a stack of Swiss documents. “
Ruperti’s lawyer, Thomas Grant QC, said earlier this month’s court hearing that Sovcomflot companies “bought” Mr. Longhurst to get his private banking records, and said the transaction was “dubious and strange.”
In a testimony before the court, Mark Hastings of Grosvenor Law, Mr. Ruperti’s lawyer, claimed that Sovcomflot was “concerned about the look of Lord Fairfax’s proposal” and had made a complex payment agreement to avoid the proposal had bribed Mr. Longhurst “to to provide you with Mr. Ruperti’s confidential documents.
The transaction is at the heart of a complex litigation in the Maroil Trading Novoship, which is part of the Sovcomflot Group, for up to $ 91 million for allegedly violating a 2016 settlement agreement.
Novoship again sued Burford Capital, which it claims is liable for damage in connection with the alleged violation.
In 2016, two years after trading with Mr. Longhurst, Mr. Hall exchanged Mr. Ruperti’s documents for “video material of a sexual nature” related to Harry Sargeant III, whose assets he was examining for another customer. This exchange has sparked litigation on both sides of the Atlantic.
Burford declined to comment on the lawsuit. Novoship’s lawsuit accuses her of fraudulently misrepresenting her. Burford said Mr. Hall would not comment.
Novoship said: “Novoship does not want to comment on the recent lawsuits. . . except to say that it doesn’t match Mr. Ruperti’s characterization of events. ”
In his court files, Novoship said that Mr. Longhurst “voluntarily provided the documents.” “It is contested that this payment was unlawful, let alone that the defendants” bribed “Mr. Longhurst, who had a real dispute with Mr. Ruperti over unpaid wages or fees,” the court files said.
Mr. Longhurst did not respond to a request for comment.