"Romeo, Romeo, where art thy briefcase?"
Allen & Overy has been blacklisted by Credit Suisse's General Counsel after an A&O associate left a briefcase containing sensitive client documents on a train in Finland.
The Allen & Overy banking associate was travelling home for the weekend when he forgot the briefcase, which contained "highly confidential Credit Suisse documents" according to sources.
The briefcase was recovered before any of its contents went astray, but, along with other perceived mistakes by A&O, the incident has been used by Credit Suisse General Counsel Romeo Cerutti as a pretext to freeze out the firm. "Cerutti has taken care of this matter personally", said a source.
The investment bank will continue to work with Allen & Overy on their slate of existing matters, but does not intend to give the firm any new instructions, said sources.
Some insiders have queried how effective Cerutti's edict will be. One suggested that A&O was so deeply embedded with Credit Suisse in other markets, such as Asia, that it was not realistic to expect the relationship to end, and that any ban would only be effective in Europe.
Credit Suisse reappointed Allen & Overy to its panel at the start of 2021 and it is a significant client of the firm, with billings understood to be in the region of £25 million a year.
However, the relationship with Cerutti is understood to have soured when Allen & Overy decided to advise Grant Thornton on the administration of failed finance company Greensill Capital. The work brought the firm £3.9 million in fees.
Credit Suisse ran a group of investment funds with Greensill worth $10 billion, and since its collapse the bank has been seeking to recover a shortfall of $2.3 billion to repay investors.
Heads have rolled at Credit Suisse over the Greensill fiasco and a $5.5 billion loss incurred when Archegos, a US hedge fund backed by the bank, disintegrated. Swiss regulators have opened a probe into its activities after the two failures.
Cerutti and his team are understood to have been unhappy that A&O worked on both sides of the Greensill matter, and began identifying perceived issues with the firm’s work, including alleged data leaks across the Chinese Wall between A&O's Credit Suisse and Greensill teams, and the Finnish Train Incident.
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