The Power of Money: How Autocrats Use London to Strike Foes Worldwide
Olena Tyshchenko, a lawyer based in Britain, was facing years in a crowded Russian prison cell when a chance at freedom came via an unexpected source.
An English lawyer named Chris Hardman, a partner at Hogan Lovells, one of the biggest law firms in the world, flew into Moscow while his firm helped draft a tantalizing offer: Tyshchenko could be freed if she provided information that could be used to help his client in a sprawling web of litigation in London.
The twist is that Tyshchenko was one of the lawyers on the other side. To win her freedom, she would have to turn on her client. It was a ruthless exchange. But the Moscow prison had been ruthless, too, and she reluctantly agreed. In a later interview, she said what seemed “most abnormal” was that lawyers opposing her in a trial in London could play a role in her fate in Russia.
“They are extremely aggressive,” she added.
A Moscow prison. A London courtroom. One is part of a Russian legal system widely considered corrupt and subordinate to the Kremlin. The other is a symbol of an English legal system respected around the world. Yet after Hardman returned to London, an English judge would accept into the case the evidence obtained from the Moscow prison.
The episode is a vivid illustration of how the brutal politics of authoritarian countries like Russia and Kazakhstan have spilled into England’s legal system, with lawyers and private investigators in London raking in huge fees and engaging in questionable tactics in the service of autocratic foreign governments.
An investigation by The New York Times and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism — involving a review of hundreds of pages of case documents, leaked records and more than 80 interviews with insiders, experts and witnesses — reveals how London’s courts are being used by autocrats to wage legal warfare against people who have fled their countries after falling out of favor over politics or money.
Four out of the past six 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 favor and fled. Neither side elicits much pity — but both pay generous legal fees.
Filing litigation in London can bring legitimacy for claims by autocratic governments, whose own legal systems are so tainted that their decisions carry little weight outside their borders.
(Andrew Higgins, Jane Bradley, Isobel Koshiw and Franz Wild) 譯／陳韋廷
動詞片語wage legal warfare against sb意指「對某人發起法律戰」，同段片語fall out of favor則跟倒數第二段片語fall from favor同義，即lose favor（失寵、失勢）。末段的carry little weight表示「沒什麼分量」，指獨裁國家的司法判決很少被外國認可。