For reference. Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) is an international holding company and a leading participant in the global extraction and processing of natural resources. The company has a full production cycle, including mining, processing, energy generation and logistics. The bulk of ERG's assets are located in Kazakhstan. Previously, it was known as the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) and even included its shares in the FTSE 100 index, and also traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE).
ERG is the largest ferrochrome producer by chromium content in the world, a key player in the iron ore mining and processing industry in Kazakhstan and one of the world's largest iron ore exporters. In addition, the company ranks ninth in the world ranking of industrial alumina production.
ERG makes a significant contribution to the economic development of Kazakhstan. Helps increase its GDP. In 2009, the company's share in the country's economy was about 3%.
The SFO's investigation into ERG began in 2013. This was based on information provided by Neil Gerrard, a partner at law firm Dechert in London. ERG previously retained this lawyer to conduct an internal investigation. Based on the information provided, suspicions arose that the company had committed fraud, corruption and bribery. However, the investigation was discontinued in August of this year. The department said it did not have sufficient evidence that could be used in a lawsuit to bring charges.
The court concluded that the SFO should not have used the information provided by Mr Gerrard because he was a lawyer for ERG. He had no right to disclose information related to the client. The regulator's decision to launch an investigation based on such data resulted in unnecessary costs and lost work time for company employees. In accordance with the court decision, Neil Gerrard and Dechert will also be required to pay compensation to the Kazakh company.
The SFO expressed its dissatisfaction with the court's decision, particularly as it relates to actions by the regulator's staff that occurred more than ten years ago. Michael Roberts, a lawyer from the law firm Hogan Lovells, which represents ERG, said that "today's decision confirms ERG's determination to restore its reputation." He also stressed that this decision sends an important message that using lawyers as confidential informants for their clients is illegal and should not be tolerated.
ERG initially sought compensation of more than £21 million, with Dechert having already paid out around £9 million. A £12 million claim remains unpaid. The court ruled that the SFO was liable for a quarter of the damages assessed, while Dechert and Neil Gerrard would be jointly liable for the remainder. The final amount to be paid to the SFO, Dechert and Neil Gerrard will be determined at a hearing scheduled for early 2024.