Remember John Grisham’s classic legal drama The Firm? Remember how slick lawyer Avery Tolar (played by Gene Hackman in the movie) and his firm helped criminal clients? The hidden files in the Caymans?
That’s just the kind of association a big, respected law firm wants nothing to do with.
But a report this morning explains how Greenberg Traurig’s work for Allen Stanford in Antigua may have helped the disgraced financier perpetuate his alleged $7 billion fraud.
Miami Herald: Though not under criminal investigation, Greenberg Traurig is facing a legal review of its actions on this tiny island that was the centre of his banking kingdom.
The court-appointed receiver trying to recover money for victims is demanding records of the legal work provided to the disgraced banker — including that of Greenberg. The effort is the latest by the receiver to untangle the complex deals spun by Stanford as well as the conduct of his lawyers.
The demand for the records has put a rare spotlight on Greenberg Traurig and another firm, Hunton & Williams, which now holds the records.
Basically, the article explains how Greenberg “propelled Stanford’s business interests and helped rescue him from crisis,” keeping the U.S.-Antigua link — a “money pipeline” — open.
When the U.S. considered blacklisting all offshore institutions in Antigua — cutting off access to U.S. currency — a task force was convened to avert shutting banks down. On the committee was Greenberg lawyer Patrick O’Brien; Stanford’s Antigua hub stayed alive. Another lawyer, Yolanda Suarez, left Greenberg to become Stanford’s legal counsel.
The Herald sought interviews with five lawyers who represented Stanford while working for the firm, but only two responded, both declining comment because of confidentiality reasons, saying they were “simply giving legal support and were unaware of any illegal schemes by Stanford.”
As the article notes, U.S. investigators have had a hard time tracing the millions that flowed from the U.S. to Antigua. That’s been complicated by Hunton & Williams, who took over as Stanford’s counsel after Greenberg.
The court receiver is pushing for more information, but Hunton & Williams, who now has the Antigua files, doesn’t want to give them up for confidentiality reasons. “There are legal issues regarding jurisdiction and client privilege that must be resolved before we proceed further,” Eleanor Kerlow, a spokeswoman for Hunton & Williams told the Herald.
Judge David Godbey in Houston is expected to decide whether the firm must comply.
Regardless, we wonder if John Grisham is taking note. With a few embellishments — an extortion here, a murder there — he could have a another big book.
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