City law practice Hogan Lovells continues to be attracted in to the growing corruption scandal in Nigeria among allegations it created a “whitewash” report into claims of cash washing in a government agency.
Lord Peter Hain, the previous Work minister and anti-apartheid campaigner, authored to Britain’s law watchdog the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on Friday requesting an inquiry into Hogan Lovells’ conduct.
Lord Hain is anticipated to boost his concerns in the home of Lords on Monday.
The move threatens to tug the international law practice in to the political storm swirling around South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma and shut associates the millionaire Gupta family.
British firms associated with misconduct through the Guptas have incorporated disgraced PR agency Bell Pottinger – which collapsed following a dirty methods campaign was uncovered – KPMG, that has subsequently removed out its South African management, and management consultancy McKinsey.
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Lord Hain has individually referred London-based lenders HSBC and Standard Chartered towards the Financial Conduct Authority.
The allegations against Hogan Lovells center around a questionable analysis it conducted for that South African Revenue Service (SARS) into allegations of monetary misconduct against a couple of its staff, Jonas Makwakwa, its deputy chief, and the lover Kelly Ann Elskie, who had been a minimal-level worker.
It was alleged around R1.7m (£100,000) was compensated to their bank accounts more than a six-year period.
Allegedly suspicious transactions were recognized by South Africa’s Financial Intelligence Committee, resulting in Hogan Lovells’ analysis.
Hogan Lovells’ report suggested disciplinary action against Mr Makwakwa, however it has none the less been criticised by campaigners and politicians in Nigeria to be too soft.
Hogan Lovells needed to account for a way it conducted its SARS analysis to some South African parliamentary committee recently. After Hogan Lovells’ analysis, Mr Makwakwa was later found innocent by an interior SARS inquiry and reinstated since it’s deputy chief in October this past year carrying out a suspension.
No action was taken against Ms Elskie and nor was any suggested by Hogan Lovells.
Lord Hain is known to possess evidence from Nigeria substantiating allegations of corruption against SARS, that they believes must have been uncovered by Hogan Lovells and reflected in the report.
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In the Lords now, he’ll claim Hogan Lovells was “complicit” in undermining SARS and therefore helped bolster President Zuma and the associates the Guptas.
Lord Hain has requested the SRA to think about sanctioning Hogan Lovells or its leading partners.
Possible sanctions could include striking off individual lawyers or referring the firm to some disciplinary tribunal. Lord Hain would be a leading campaigner against South Africa’s apartheid regime. He brought opposition to tours through the South African tennis, rugby and cricket sides.
In reaction to previous critique of their analysis into SARS, Hogan Lovells has stated its scope was “limited to identifying whether any misconduct have been committed by Mr Makwakwa and Ms Elskie as employees of SARS”.
“It didn’t aim to directly investigate financial transactions recognized by the FIC. We know that all criminal-related allegations as a result of the FIC report were known the appropriate government bodies for analysis,” it added. Hogan Lovells stated SARS conducted its very own internal disciplinary procedures after its report, which found innocent Mr Makwakwa of charges.
An SRA spokesman stated: “We take all complaints seriously and can take a look at any evidence provided to us about alleged misconduct.”
The Gupta siblings and Mr Zuma have frequently strongly denied wrongdoing and stated those are the victims of the “politically motivated witch-hunt”. A week ago, Coca-Cola’s South African companies and giant Sasol stated they’d not award start up business to McKinsey until a corruption inquiry into its work was concluded.
McKinsey has formerly apologised to make “several errors of judgment” in the use firms from the Gupta family but stated it’s found no proof of corruption or bribery.
HSBC and Standard Chartered stated they’d shut accounts they feel are from the Guptas and therefore are dedicated to combating financial crime.