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‘It’s only right’: Major City firm leaders publicly pledge to tackle corruption ahead of summit

As the Panama Papers saga continues to dominate headlines around the world, a host of senior law firm leaders have publicly pledged to tackle bribery, corruption, tax-evasion, money laundering and the financing of international terrorism ahead of the London Anti-Corruption Summit tomorrow.

Senior management at leading firms including Allen & Overy senior partner Wim Dejonghe (pictured), Ashurst chair Ben Tidswell, Herbert Smith Freehills joint chief executives Sonya Leydecker and Mark Rigotti, Linklaters senior partner Robert Elliott, White & Case London executive partner Oliver Brettle, Hogan Lovells chair Nicholas Cheffings, and Baker & McKenzie managing partner Paul Rawlinson are part of a group of professional bodies to state on the eve of the UK government organised summit they ‘deplore the damage caused to social progress and economic development by corruption.’

The statement said: ‘Our organisations play important roles in the global economy and the operation of the world’s capital investment and real estate markets. As providers of professional services, we each take pride in the part we play in helping to strengthen trust within society, and we recognise our responsibility to carry out our work with due consideration of the public interest.’

‘We are committed to play our part in efforts to prevent the proceeds of crime and corruption from entering legitimate capital and investment markets; the importance of this challenge has never been clearer.’

The group added it will strive to combat corruption when working in smaller markets where regulatory frameworks are less developed; maintain ‘robust’ procedures when taking new clients; prioritise education and training of professional bodies to build awareness of the damage caused by corruption; and foster cultures across their respective professions that refuse to tolerate corruption.

Baker & McKenzie London co-head of compliance and risk Sunny Mann told Legal Business: ‘As a global law firm, we have been going into high-growth markets across the world side-by-side with our clients, for over 70 years. It’s only right therefore that we also stand side-by-side with our clients as we collectively combat corruption across the world. This initiative is a great example of how law firms can collaborate effectively to tackle risks faced by society.’

The statement follows news this week that Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy, Clyde & Co and Taylor Wessing have all been named as firms linked to secret offshore entities in the latest leak of over 11.5m files as part of the Panama Papers investigation. As well as those firms, legacy Norton Rose, which is now Norton Rose Fulbright and Lovells, which later formed Hogan Lovells as also listed. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released the files on Monday (9 May) as part of the project which revealed the names of more than 360,000 people and companies behind the offshore structures.

The anti-corruption summit kicks off tomorrow (12 May) at Lancaster House in the West End where Prime Minster David Cameron will host leaders in business and government.

For more Panama Papers analysis subscribers can read: ‘From offshore to Big Law: the Panama Papers’ lasting imprint on the legal landscape.’

Law firm management listed:

Wim Dejonghe, senior partner, Allen & Overy

Ben Tidswell, chairman, Ashurst

Paul Rawlinson, managing partner, Baker & McKenzie

Chris Perrin, executive partner and general counsel, Clifford Chance

Penelope Warne, senior partner, CMS Cameron McKenna

Jeremy Cohen, chief executive EMEA, Dentons

Juan Picon, senior partner, DLA Piper

Mark Rigotti and Sonya Leydecker, joint chief executives, Herbert Smith Freehills

Nicholas Cheffings, chair, Hogan Lovells

Robert Elliott, senior partner, Linklaters

Peter Martyr, global chief executive, Norton Rose Fulbright

Oliver Brettle, executive partner, White & Case London