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"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.

Credit Suisse and Allen & Overy declined to comment on the fact that lawyers, trains and briefcases just don't seem to mix very well.

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Dearie 26 November 21 09:20

What a delightful sounding client… Lender panel work is a pain in the neck and never really worth it: they screw you on rates and conflict you from doing a lot of other good work. Even if it does create a good revenue, you’re then reliant on staying on the panel. 

Anonymous 26 November 21 09:58

Left a briefcase on a train and fessed up, hence no regulatory action at all.

Still possibly a data breach for all those criminal enablers in Switzerland, but they tend to want to avoid the "Streisand effect". Just in case anyone who hasn't already spotted it realises corruption and tax evasion, poverty and armed conflict throughout the world is facilitated by Swiss banks.

Brief 26 November 21 13:57

Why on earth does anyone, in this day and age, need to carry physical documents anywhere? This episode says more about banks/banking lawyers being stuck in the past. 

Luca Brasi 26 November 21 14:02

@09:58: Here's a Teddy Bear. Show Mommy where the big bad Swiss banker touched you.

Anonymous 26 November 21 16:30


My experience is that countries with shall we say limited tradition for democracy, have a tendency to require documents that are signed and notarised complete with apostilles from embassy and foreign office. We use special firms with couriers for this work. And Swiss banking firms are known to work for even the most benighted regimes in the world.

Anonymous 27 November 21 14:24

@Dearie 09:20 spot on.  I suspect CS will realise pretty quickly they need A&O’s expertise and their (doubtless deeply discounted) panel rates more than they appreciated.  

Reminds me of DB who, I recall, once said they wouldn’t pay for anyone less than 2PQE on their deals. 

Of course they are both immaculately well run businesses themselves, as evidenced by their long term share price trajectory.


Amado Fuentes 28 November 21 18:00

I'm more impressed by the fact that Finnish railway lost property evidently works so well.

Je Suis Monty Don l’Autobus 29 November 21 14:31

GC sounds like a proper chippy tool. It would be both a pleasure and an honour not to do any work for him.

A&O lawyer 29 November 21 17:16

So, this romeo guy made you remove his picture? What a f**king idiot! How ridiculous is that? 

Magic circle associate 29 November 21 17:20

Second try: the fact that this guy made you remove his picture tells more about him than you ever possibly need to know! 

Anonymous 02 December 21 14:33

100k a year Associate makes a rookie error.  Magic circle firm billing a billion a year still mostly using paper rather than technology.  Quality

Je Suis Monty Don l'Autobus 05 December 21 09:11

Heh @ all the commenters trying to seem with it.

Paper is still the killer app for most legal work.

Automation is for the third division. U

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