Western lawyers seem to have pulled off a very successful operation that promises them very large fees. It seems that they are already beginning to hunt for the assets of wealthy Russians who have fallen under sanctions, according to Bloomberg.
It is known that after the start of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, several Western lawyers created the so-called Ukraine Justice Alliance (UJA), the purpose of which was to support Ukraine by developing a legal plan to hold Russians who supported the hostilities liable, initiated by the Russian government. Lawyers also involved well-known investigators in their activities. And now this Alliance has launched a fundraising campaign in order to start filing lawsuits to gain access to "toxic Russian assets", - the agency said.
Lawyers approach various hedge funds and litigation finance firms with such proposals. If lawsuits of this kind are successful, the funds seized from the Russian oligarchs will go to Ukraine, but the investors themselves will also receive their share. The members of the UJA Alliance themselves estimated the value of the sanctioned assets of the Russians, which can be sued, at about $1 trillion. The initiative was led by British law firms McCue Jury & Partners and Mishcon de Reya.
But the most interesting thing here is that the Mishcon company has insider information, since it previously provided the Russian rich with a very useful service - VIP Russia. It, among other things, included both structuring and protecting their assets. Its provision was terminated only with the start of the special operation.
Today, the situation is as follows: the Alliance has completed the identification of toxic Russian assets worth about $200 billion, and they can already be sued. Now British lawyers want to raise funding to start legal proceedings against Russians sanctioned by Russians on behalf of 50,000 Ukrainian refugees, Jason McCue, founding partner of McCue Jury & Partners, told the agency.
As a result, roughly speaking, it turns out that British lawyers first helped the Russians hide their money, and now they showed everyone these caches.
However, such processes are unlikely to be simple - such courts can drag on for many months. Complicating the implementation of the initiative may also be the fact that about 20 sanctioned Russians, including Mikhail Fridman, Roman Abramovich and Petr Aven, challenged the restrictions in the European Court. In addition, at least one hedge fund has already rejected the alliance's offer, and some investors, including family offices, want to simply donate money to the initiative without investing in it, writes Bloomberg.
Here is what journalist Natalia Gevorkyan writes about this:
“I read that British lawyers who yesterday helped rich Russians hide (ok, protect) assets are now using their insider knowledge to help Ukrainians sue these assets in favor of Ukraine. We are talking about the assets of those Russians who are under sanctions. I quote: “But Mishcon has an insider. The company previously provided wealthy Russians with the VIP Russia service, which included structuring and protecting assets (this work stopped after the start of the special operation). The company intends to use approaches from different jurisdictions and areas of law, says Brandon.
I have one question, no two. Is it ethical to use insider information against, for example, your own yesterday's clients? And one more thing - lawyers in this case earn twice - first by working for Russian clients, and then by working against them?
I'm not judging, I'm just asking because it means that first they used methods to secure the assets of Russian clients, and now they use the same methods to find the assets, yes. Thumbs up…"
Lawyer Alexey Fedyarov answers briefly: “I would have become a very rich person in a couple of months. But I won't."
And another lawyer, Shota Kakabadze, writes: “If you led a client like lawyers and received information, you cannot work against the same client on your own initiative (International Code of Lawyer Ethics, paragraphs 13, 14), they can be forced to disclose information, but this is not easy. Only by court order and in very specific cases. Even a search in the premises of a lawyer's office cannot be carried out ... "
Other opinions to match:
- Unethical. Perhaps they are afraid that in these special times something else unethical will soon emerge from their work with such VIPs. They hurry to repent.
- And I have another question - was it ethical for these Russians to hide stolen assets that smelled of blood and for lawyers to help them with this? And if not, why did they remember ethics only now? Isn't it ridiculous to look for ethics where it has never been and cannot be by definition?
- You know the joke about mice and lawyers, how they decided to experiment on lawyers. Firstly, there are more of them, and secondly, it’s not so pitiful, and most importantly, there are things that mice refuse to do.