On 18 June, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism published a report based on a joint investigation with The New York Times, revealing that in 4 out of the past 6 years, litigants from Russia and Kazakhstan have been involved in more civil cases in England than have any other foreigners. Authoritarian governments, or related state entities, are often pitted against wealthy tycoons who have fallen from favour and fled. Neither side elicits much pity — but both pay generous legal fees. What is often sought, it is reported, are what one judge called a legal “nuclear weapon” — court orders freezing a defendant’s assets worldwide. The report refers to “an industry of enablers” which has grown up in London to protect and sustain the interests of corrupt elites. This involves not just otherwise respected law firms, but also the likes of “private intelligence” firm Diligence.
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