Top UK lawyer accused of relaying ‘bribe’ offer to police over Swiss bank funds
27 Jul 2020

A lawyer at one of the UK’s most prestigious law firms has been accused of relaying an offer of a £1m “bribe” to police officers as part of a bizarre plot to release €300m (£274m) hidden in a Swiss bank account, according to court transcripts obtained by the Guardian.

Mike Stubbs, a partner at Mishcon de Reya, allegedly told two Metropolitan police detectives that a former SAS sergeant with intelligence contacts had concocted a plan to release what were described as “CIA funds” being held in the Swiss bank for “covert” purposes in Somalia.

According to the transcripts, Stubbs told the detectives the intelligence operative was proposing to pay a portion of the money into a police pension fund. The detectives allegedly “strongly rebuffed” the proposal and told Stubbs “in clear and strongly worded terms” that the offer he was relaying was “interpreted as a bribe”.

Details of the encounter between Stubbs and the detectives emerged during hearings at Southwark crown court in London last December and related to the trial of Othman Louanjli, a French banker.

During the trial, but in the absence of the jury, lawyers for Louanjli applied to introduce as evidence a report filed on the Met’s internal intelligence sharing system, Crimint, in which the two detectives provided their account of the meeting with Stubbs in 2013.

The court heard that the Crimint report, which was filed a month after the meeting, stated Stubbs twice relayed the intelligence operative’s offer to the police as part of an elaborate proposal to trick a suspect in a fraud investigation into travelling to Switzerland to release the €300m using special access codes. The proposal was not taken up.

The judge in the trial, David Tomlinson, summarised the offer to pay money to the police as an “inducement by way of £1m”, but did not make any adverse findings against Stubbs and ultimately ruled against admitting the Crimint report as evidence.

However, the judge said Stubbs appeared to think the plan to release the supposed CIA funds was “a clever idea” and described the senior lawyer’s alleged conversations with the police as “extraordinary”.

“The whole thing is bizarre. I mean, there are all sorts of problems with it,” the judge remarked. “There are all sorts of questions one can imagine one might ask Mike Stubbs if only to show him how harebrained the idea is.” The police, the judge added, “simply blew the whole idea out of the water both times it was suggested, which was the responsible thing to do”.

Stubbs, 64, is a veteran lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, an elite London firm. When the Guardian contacted him by phone, he denied any knowledge of the plot to release funds from Switzerland. “I’ve never heard of this,” he said. “It’s complete nonsense.”

By Harry Davies, The Guardian, 24 July 2020

Read more at The Guardian

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