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Gulf agency withdraws defence in Azima hacking case

The High Court was told in a letter of the Ras Al Khaimah investment authority’s “commercial decision to withdraw from the proceedings”
The High Court was told in a letter of the Ras Al Khaimah investment authority’s “commercial decision to withdraw from the proceedings”
ALAMY

Executives at a Gulf investment agency have said they will no longer contest allegations of computer hacking after their City lawyer was found to have been negligent.

In the latest twist to a six-year saga, the Ras Al Khaimah investment authority has told the High Court in London that it will no longer defend a claim brought by Farhad Azima that officials in the emirate hacked his computer and published his emails on the “dark web”.

Officials said that they had offered the Iranian-American aviation entrepreneur a $1 million settlement but agreed that they would pay whatever damages the judge imposed if the settlement offer was rejected.

Azima has been in a legal wrangle with officials in RAK, one of the seven emirates forming the UAE federation, since 2016. The investment authority initially sued Azima over its dealings with him and he counter-sued, claiming that the investment authority was relying on hacked material.

In the litigation, the investment authority instructed Neil Gerrard, then a partner at the City office of the American law firm Dechert.

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Last month, in separate litigation involving allegations made by the Serious Fraud Office against Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, the mining company, a judge said that Gerrard had been negligent and committed a “reckless breach of [professional] duty”.

In a letter sent to the High Court this week, senior officials at the investment authority said that in the ruling last month, the court had called Gerrard “a dishonest witness who engaged in serious wrongdoing and ethical violations”.

They said the authority had “made a commercial decision to withdraw from the proceedings”.

Dominic Holden, partner at Burlingtons, the law firm acting for Azima, said that the recent offer to their client “has not been agreed”. A spokesman for the businessman confirmed this.

Gerrard and Dechert deny any wrongdoing relating to their involvement in the litigation against Azima.

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