Complex fraud litigation – substantial misappropriation of funds and diversion of business from an oil trading company by high ranking executive

July 2016

Quist were engaged by the Financial Crime department one of the largest law firms in the Middle East on behalf of their client, a multi-national oil trading company.

Our client operates around the world trading, distributing, shipping and storing oil products and represents one of the largest operations of its kind in the Middle East. One of its highest ranking and long standing executives was given extensive authority and control over client relations, marketing, business development and generally running the group’s businesses. He had access to commercially sensitive information and used that, over a period of time to divert away contracts to a network of companies he set up surreptitiously with the aid of family members. A number of companies were identified and business activities were carried on from numerous other jurisdictions: African, American and European (including England). The defendants (which included close members of family who were complicit in the fraudulent activities) built a substantial portfolio of cash and assets.

The principal defendant was also engaged in numerous spurious transactions disposing of our client group companies’ assets without the directors’ knowledge and authority to do so.

It was estimated that the level of misappropriations and benefit derived by the Defendants exceeded $100million.

In this case the availability of the evidence was limited as a result of the exceptional commercial and political sensitivities which attached to its utility. The principal Defendant had ‘covered his tracks’ in the jurisdiction where our client is based and where he worked. The courts in that jurisdiction therefore offered limited recourse. This made the articulation of a course of action in London all the more crucial.

Quist assisted by reviewing interpret feedback from private investigators and limited evidence to find an alternative legal route through the English High Court for relief. This relief was a critical first stepping-stone to engage the Defendants (companies and a close family member) in the dispute and to open up avenues of important disclosure.

Quist’s advice added significant value to the more traditional advice obtained from a commercial Queen’s Counsel. As a result of our extensive experience in the region, Quist were able to build upon counsel’s advice to contextualise the dispute by having regard to local conditions (political and legal) which limited our client’s options in the Middle East. Those conditions meant that the claim in the English jurisdiction necessitated supplementing arguments seeking disclosure with relevant and important additional evidence to explain the basis of the relief and remedies being sought. Those facts were unique to the region and commercial disputes there (they would not apply in normal European commercial disputes).