How Gerrard's accuser portrays the lawyer (yet to be confirmed in a court of law).
Farhad Azima, an Iranian-American aviation mogul who lives in Kansas City, has accused Neil Gerrard of using cybermercenaries to hack his emails and use them against him.
Gerrard, an ex-policeman who was Dechert's head of white collar crime, was instructed by the UAE sheikdom Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) to investigate allegations the previous head of its Investment Authority has been engaged in fraud.
As the scope of Dechert's investigation under Gerrard expanded it encompassed Karem Al Sadeq, the Investment Authority's former legal advisor, who said that as a result of the probe he was wrongfully arrested and incarcerated in a UAE prison. Al Sadeq is suing Dechert, Gerrard and other partners in a separate claim and alleges that he was blindfolded and tied to a chair while Gerrard interrogated him.
Azima has accused RAK and Gerrard of cooking up a plot to ruin him because he drew attention to Al Sadeq's plight. The alleged scheme involved Gerrard paying hackers to steal emails from Azima's account which showed the mogul may have been working with a trio of sanctioned Iranians when it was not legally prudent for a US citizen to do so, and then leaking the emails on the internet.
At that point, alleges Azima, Gerrard arranged for Dechert to 'discover' the incriminating emails on the web, which enabled RAK to successfully sue Azima for $4.2m for breaching the good faith clause of a settlement agreement between the two parties.
Azima says Gerrard and his co-defendants also planted "false and disparaging" stories in the press about his Iranian links as part of a smear campaign, and then spent years trying to cover up their culpability for the hack, which he says has cost him a fortune in lost earnings because potential business partners decided he was toxic.
According to Azima's lawyers, to prepare for an upcoming hearing Gerrard ran a "perjury school" at a Swiss hotel in 2019 at which his team practised getting their stories straight about how they happened across the hacked emails. "While dining with a private chef and enjoying an extensive selection of fine wines", Gerrard and his team "engaged in a mock trial, with Gerrard acting as judge and cross-examining counsel in an effort to perfect the narrative", alleges Azima.
He claims that Gerrard's team hacked more emails after the 2016 leak, and to plausibly explain how the data came into their possession they hatched a "complicated scheme to use a subcontractor in France to travel to Lebanon to anonymously mail printed copies" of the material to Gerrard and others.
Gerrard also instructed the hackers to search for information in the accounts of Al Sadeq's lawyers in the UK, alleges Azima. But it went pear-shaped when Stokoe Partnership Solicitors realised they were being targeted by phishing emails and inserted tracking code into their responses, which enabled them to trace the source back to...one of Gerrard's alleged hackers, according to Azima.
For a partner who joined Dechert with a reputation as a rainmaker, Gerrard is proving expensive. The firm made an interim payment of £20m in August after the High Court ruled that Gerrard and the firm committed deliberate acts of wrongdoing in relation to the enormous fees he generated while conducting an ever-widening probe into corruption at the ENRC mining conglomerate.
A spokesperson for Dechert said, "The claim against the firm is denied and will be defended".