-moral compass not found-
After leaked emails exposed its involvement with a ruthless Russian warlord, 'Discreet Law' has kept true to its name and hidden the identities of its lawyers.
Founder Roger Gherson and his team’s 'Who We Are' page was deleted from their website this week after it emerged that Discreet Law acted for Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the sanctioned head of the notorious Wagner mercenary group.
Prigozhin instructed Discreet Law in 2021 to sue a UK journalist for correctly reporting that he was the private army's founder.
The Russian dropped his libel case against Eliot Higgins after the invasion of Ukraine prompted the warlord to go public with his leadership of Wagner.
The UK government is now conducting a review of its processes after it transpired that the Treasury granted a special licence to Prigozhin which allowed him to sidestep sanctions and instruct Discreet Law to sue Higgins, under a provision allowing sanctioned individuals to cover their "basic needs".
Before he built his private militia, the former hotdog seller and convict was an army caterer nicknamed 'Putin's chef' because of his closeness to the Russian president.
As one of the most powerful players in the invasion of Ukraine, Prigozhin was allowed to recruit Russian prisoners to bulk up his mercenary group. Wagner forces have been accused of committing multiple war crimes in the areas where they have been operating in the country, including the rape and murder of civilians and the torture of deserters.
In one bloodcurdling incident, Prigozhin dismissed a video showing a Wagner deserter being executed with a sledgehammer by joking, "Excellent directorial work... I hope no animals were harmed during filming".
A trove of hacked emails revealed that Prigozhin paid Discreet Law directly via wire transfer from Russia, and that the firm's grubby funds were initially withheld by the bank because of Prigozhin's sanctioned status.
Gherson appears to be as uncomfortable in the spotlight as his clients, as the 'Who We Are' page has been deleted from Discreet Law's website. Luckily, wealthy individuals seeking a firm that will act without scruples can still download Discreet Law's brochure, which is available in three languages: Russian, Chinese, and Arabic.
Its lawyers' profiles are still indirectly accessible. Gherson's blurb winks that he created the firm "In response to his clients’ increasing demands for discreet and effective legal counsel".
The promise of a velvet glove for the world's iron fists pervades Discreet Law's marketing, which whispers that, "Given our familiarity with and sensitivity to cultures across the world, we strive to reassure our clients at every stage of the process and provide them with a level of confidentiality that is unsurpassed."
RollOnFriday asked Gherson whether his firm's sensitivity to cultures around the world extended to Ukraine’s culture of sovereignty as well as Wagner's culture of invasion, but he was too discreet to respond.
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SHOCK HEADLINE: "West End law firm advises nefarious individual on dodgy scheme to do illegal and harmful acts, makes loads of money without any form of moral conscience and pisses all over regulatory restrictions and the Solicitors Conduct Rules in the process."
If you look at the firms sanctioned by the SRA for lax KYC and anti money laundering processes - Mishcon (fined £232,500), Howard Kennedy (fined £35k and five lawyers disciplined by the SRA), Achom and Partners (fined £3,500) - they are just the ones where the SRA found them out.In the meantime, some firms are making a large multiple of those numbers in fees while ignoring the conduct rules altogether.
You are looking at the wrong website - go to https://www.gherson.com/team/ - note the surnames of the first three lawyers. I wonder how they get their jobs?
Advises(ed) plenty of interesting Ukrainians too
"Given our familiarity with and sensitivity to cultures across the world, we strive to reassure our clients at every stage of the process and provide them with a level of confidentiality that is unsurpassed."
Read: we are from a particular ethnic group and we will act for "our people" and not shop them for bad behaviour - wink wink.
I worked with Gherson on a case many years ago when I was a trainee - his firm any my firm were advising the same client. He shouted at me at length for something that was very obviously not my fault. What an unpleasant man.
Unfortunately for him, Discreet Law website was archived on WBM on 25 Jan. It's all there in plain site. As mentioned, it's not hard to see how they got embroiled in Russian mercenary groups looking at some of his colleagues names. Could this finally be a solicitor more hated than the infamous bespectacled one of the Iraqi fraud fame?
There are lots of review mechanisms out there (Google, professional bodies... etc) to comment on re this contemptible individual - give them a try !
Love the Way Back Machine. Not so discreet after all...
I love the fact that one of their lawyers is Tim Crook. Sounds like a dickensian kind of character- maybe when Tiny Tim got in with a bad crowd and started twocking hackney carriages.