Swiss lawyer jailed for telling tales about Russian business clients to British & US agencies
Matthew Parish, a lawyer from Geneva, has been sentenced to two months in a Swiss jail for libel and breaking attorney-client privilege after two Russian oil traders accused him of blackmailing them.
According to a criminal complaint filed against Parish by Murat Seitnepesov and Konstantin Ryndin last month, the lawyer made public false allegations to make them pay a heavily padded bill of more than 720,000 Swiss francs ($730,000). Later, the bill reportedly swelled to 898,000 francs ($910,000). The traders accuse their former lawyer of libel by telling British and US security agencies that they had violated sanctions on Iran.
“Intent on reaching the widest possible audience, Mr Parish has cast doubt on the complaint’s probity by accusing them of having committed serious criminal offenses, which is clearly not the case,” the complaint says.
Parish passed on some sensitive information on his clients to the director-general of MI5, Britain’s top security service, as well as to the US Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees sanctions policy violations, according to copies of letters seen by Bloomberg.
The plaintiffs also accuse the lawyer of blackmail, citing emails from Parrish, in which he pledges to call back his complaints against them upon payment.
“I will withdraw all my various complaints to different authorities, and I will use my reasonable endeavors to ensure that those complaints are not thereafter pursued,” the email said.
Last year, Gentium Law Group, where Parish works, was searched and the attorney was questioned by a prosecutor over his involvement in a separate case, according to Swiss daily Le Temps.
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