*Artist's impression of Client A.

 A Dentons partner called a colleague who flagged issues with his suspicious client a “big prick”, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has heard.

The client and the partner, Francois Chateau, were both inherited from Salans when Dentons combined with the smaller firm in 2013. 

Dentons is now being prosecuted by the SRA for failing to take adequate measures to establish the source of the client's wealth when it onboarded him as part of the Salans merger. 

'Client A', as he's been identified at the tribunal, was the chairman of a bank in a country described as a “banana republic” rife with corruption, reported the Law Gazette.

His relationship with Dentons came to an abrupt end in 2017 when he was jailed for laundering billions of dollars through the bank as part of a massive embezzlement scheme. 

Salans had more than its fair share of ‘interesting’ clients, according to sources. One former employee recalled a Salans partner trying to fly back to London from an African state when a disagreement involving his client saw him stopped at the airport, put in the back of a car and placed under house arrest for months.

Chateau was the chairman of Salans and following the merger the Frenchman was appointed as the global vice chairman of Dentons. He is now a partner in the firm's New York office, where his profile describes him as a "successful entrepreneur".

According to the SRA, Chateau's approach to establishing the source of Client A’s wealth as the relationship partner was altogether too entrepreneurial.

When a member of Dentons' risk and compliance team flagged concerns over Client A's plans to buy a bank in the UK, Chateau slammed him in a memo as “untrustworthy” and a “big prick showing a poor judgement and not knowing what he is doing”.

And when SRA investigators quizzed Chateau in 2020, he explained to them that it was "not in European culture" to delve into a client's finances and "impolite" to ask them about their salaries.

The SRA said Chateau’s approach to due diligence was the “exact opposite” of what was required and that he “appears to have taken a strikingly hostile approach to anyone asking to carry out the most elementary compliance checks”.

The regulator also described Chateau as “someone lacking in subtlety [and] insight” who did not have “respect” for the views of others.

Dentons argues that the SRA has wrongly applied current money laundering rules to a historic situation, when weaker rules applied with which the firm did comply.

"The SRA appears to have felt driven to argue that the guidance issued by the Law Society, and approved by the Treasury, is irrelevant to the question of whether the Firm complied with the obligation to take adequate measures to establish Client A's source of wealth and funds", Dentons stated in its pleadings.

"This is an unattractive position for the regulator to adopt as a body required to prosecute responsibly, fairly and in the public interest", the firm said.


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Christoph’s tentacle 08 March 24 11:11

SRA ignoring their own guidance. What a surprise. They are too busy striking off minimum wage paralegals for making typos. 

L'Grande Saucisson 08 March 24 15:31

"big prick showing a poor judgement and not knowing what he is doing" - I mean, my partners say that about me all the time, but they seem to enjoy the sheer scale of it anyway irrespective of my rudimentary technique.

Lydia 08 March 24 17:36

Very funny. There is a serious legal issue in this however in that it is the old money laundering rules only which are relevant and I am not sure the SRA is guaranteed to win this one.

Jai Bajrang Bali 09 March 24 10:15

UK is a banana republic rife with corruption, such as the PPE scandal. UK is in terminal decline with GDP growth rate of 1% since 2007, compared to India's 8%. Only a couple of decades and India will be as rich on a per capita basis as Britain. 

Anonymous 09 March 24 11:37

I hate Dentons, never worked there, but it's a kittens firm with a kittens culture - but this is an entirely ridiculous situation and the SRA have no case whatsoever, they're a bunch of kittensbags with no intellect or moral fibre. Who are they anyway to regulate anyone? Failed paralegals who couldn't become lawyers themselves, or people who flunked out of making a tuppence a year at some dodgy high street operation in a town no one's heard of.

Jai Bajrang Bali 09 March 24 12:23

The colonialist racist UK has still not apologised to the Indians for stealing the KohiNoor and still hasn't returned to. 

No apologies for the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre or the Bengal famine. 

Anonymous 11 March 24 09:28

"The colonialist racist UK has still not apologised to the Indians for stealing the KohiNoor and ... etc etc" rant rave gibber etc - Pat pat. Here is the online attention that you crave. I hope that this brings you peace / validation / enough calm to go have another wank.

SRA are Jokers 11 March 24 17:19

I see the SRA lost its case against Dentons. What a waste of time and money. 

SRA are GR8 11 March 24 19:50

I work for SRA - it good job and we good ppl, we help regulate you guys to save the public like, you dunno what your complaining bout. Just cos we come after a firm don't mean we bad guys y'all, we gotta fry the fish to catch the worm, if you know what i mean.

Scep Tick 12 March 24 11:13

Judging by the Law Gazette report, the SDT had one go at it, found a breach, Dentons said no, and the SDT then had another go...


Interesting to note though that one need not do money laundering on the "chairman of a bank majority-owned by the unnamed state, described in proceedings as an authoritarian ‘banana republic’ ruled by a handful of families with a poor record for corruption and transparency".  Can bin off the compliance team in toto.

Jai Bajrang Bali 12 March 24 22:55

@ anonymous 11 March 24 09:28

Quite the contrary. The aim is to conserve semen totally and this generates the political energy to fight for causes. 

Gandhi believed in conserving semen and not mindlessly emitting it (as in a Britisher-style 'wank'). He was able to bring down the Britisher Empire and deflate its pomp and circumstance: 

Anonymous 13 March 24 19:06

Where a lawyer describes themselves as an entrepreneur that is a red flag - it tends to mean that they cut every corner they can, emulating their actual entrepreneurial clients/backers.

Scep Tick 14 March 24 07:11

I want to hear more about how India became independent because someone didn't masturbate.

Jai Bajrang Bali 14 March 24 17:15

@ Scep Tick

Churchill tried to kill Gandhi but he failed! BoJo thought he was a latter day Churchill with his Global Britain ambitions 

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