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CASEWATCH
 


From one Corruption to Another?
Gibraltar Judge Promoted to Supreme Justice.

by: Rod Dozor in Gibraltar and Victor L. in New York
February 11, 2010 (updated December 6, 2010)

After nearly three years of vacancy of the position of Gibraltar Chief Justice,  on February 1, 2010, the Governor of Gibraltar announced the appointment of judge Anthony Dudley as the island judiciary's new chief.

Previous Gibraltar Chief Justice Derek Schofield was suspended in September 2007 amidst investigation of corruption.  In November, 2009, the Privy Council chaired by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, ruled: “We’ve reached the conclusion that the actions of the Chief Justice and his wife have rendered his position as Chief Justice of Gibraltar untenable”, The Lawyer reported. The decision also said: "The conduct of the Chief Justice has brought him and his office into disrepute."

Dudley, the new Mr. Justice of Gibraltar, now has a difficult task of cleaning up the office of the Chief Justice in order to bring the credibility to the tiny island's court system. However, allegations that Dudley's own appointment was a product of his foul play persist.

Days before Dudley's appointment, he concluded a long tumultuous case relating to a much reported battle over the inheritance of Badri Patarkatsishvili, a Georgian billionaire-philanthropist who passed away in London in March 2008, under murky circumstances. Allegations persist that the tycoon was murdered by his former partner Boris Berezovsky and his estranged-wife Inna Gudavadze, often dubbed "black widow" in Eastern European press, to seize control of his fortune. Dudley handed Gudavadze victory in the case.


Ousted Gibraltar Chief Justice
"brought his office into disrepute"

Immediately following Dudley's decision, reports appeared about Gudavadze openly boasting that she secured the favorable decision in Gibraltar court because her lawyer, British Lord Peter Goldsmith promised Dudley "to pull strings in London" to get him promoted to the post of Gibraltar Chief Justice. Gudavadze subsequently denied making these statements. But doubts remain..

Gibraltar, a flourishing tax haven, is a tiny 3.5 KM enclave with a population of 29 thousand is  located at the southern tip of Spain.  Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. Gibraltar’s senior judges are formally appointed by the Queen of England through her Gibraltarian Governor.

Gibraltar attracts significant number of sub rosa offshore trustees because of its laws permitting to disguise identity of the real owners with complex unregulated trust structures. Especially popular are the so-called "asset protection trusts". IMF and other international organizations advise that despite certain improvements in the Gibraltar legal framework, activities linked to money laundering, corruption and drug trafficking continue.

Lord Goldsmith, a former U.K. Attorney General, dubbed "Lord of Controversy" for his admitted extra-marital affairs and much reported U.K. - Saudi shady arms deal, was Gudavadze’s lead counsel in Gibraltar controversy.


Anthony Dudley
Gibraltar new Chief Justice

The record of Gibraltar proceedings is plagued with the perjurious testimonies of Gudavadze’s witnesses. In June, 2008, Esther Meimoun, a former common law wife of Joseph Kay, Gudavadze’s principal opponent in the Badri's estate battle, filed a sworn statement* withdrawing her previous affidavit. Meimoun explains that Gudavadze contacted her after hearing about her falling out with Kay. Gudavadze paid for Meimoun’s ticket from Miami to London and for accommodations in the five-star Hilton Park Lane Hotel. The pair met at Gudavadze’s mansion in Surrey, where Meimoun stayed overnight. Next morning Meimoun was driven to the office of Goldsmith. There, she signed a sworn statement prepared by Goldsmith which was "completely untrue". For her signing of perjurious sworn statement Gudavadze paid Meimoun €19,231.21 (approximately US$35,000) with a promise of paying her "an additional success fee" of €1 million (approximately US$1.4 million) if Gudavadze wins in Gibraltar. Meimoun attaches to her affidavit a copy of the wire transfer.

Meimoun apologized for her previous "false and misleading statements" and said: "I realized that I have made a big mistake in making the first statement " Meimoun explains that she did so "because [she] was very angry with Joseph Kay", and "because [she] wanted to receive that money [she] provided them with a statement even though [she] knew the contents of it to be untrue."

David Aim, a young French-Moroccan, another Gudavadze witness in Gibraltar, admitted on cross-examination* that he was paid $30,000 per month by Gudavadze for part-time "consulting" consisting solely of providing testimony in the Gibraltar case. Aim testified that he also was offered a "bonus" when Gudavadze prevails.

Nonetheless, in January 2010, Dudley ruled for Gudavadze. Gudavadze’s opponents appealed. Peculiarly, on appeal from his own decision, Dudley also sat as the appellate judge, even though Gibraltar law expressly prohibits this. Dudley quickly dismissed the appeal.

"Corruption  begets corruption" one lawyer familiar with the case said. 

Dudley declined our request for comment.

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* SEE COURT DOCUMENTS BELOW

Sworn statement of Esther Meimoun
Excerpt from court testimony of David Aim

 

 

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