PracticeConsultingOnline Extra – Court hears KPMG appeal

Online Extra - Court hears KPMG appeal

KPMG must wait to see whether it can overturn the recent High Court ruling banning the firm from assisting the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA) investigation into Prince Jefri.

The firm went to the Appeal Court on Tuesday, 29 September, to fight a High Court ruling two weks ago by Mr Justice Pumfrey. He ruled there was a danger that KPMG’s ‘Chinese walls’ could leak, allowing confidential information the firm had gathered while working for the prince to reach its other client, the BIA.

But David Donaldson QC, for KPMG, told the appeal judges, Lord Justices Otton and Waller, that there had been ‘dismay’ in Brunei after that decision. He said that investigations had ‘come to a grinding halt’ after the ruling.

He argued that KPMG’s ‘Project Gemma’ investigation was being properly conducted with a Chinese wall in place to prevent the leak of confidential information obtained from the Prince while KPMG was acting on his behalf.

However, for the Prince, Gordon Pollock QC, said he was being accused of ‘stealing a lot of money’ – several billion dollars are said to be involved in the investigation.

‘Now is not the time to go into the way the BIA and its funds tended to be used within the Brunei cultural context,’ said Pollock.

The Prince, who denies the accusations against him, would be defending himself, explained his QC. ‘He must be entitled to do that without confidential information turning up on the other side, whether it be a civil law plaintiff or criminal prosecutor,’ said Pollock.

The judges have reserved their judgment and have not indicated when it will be given. However, in view of the urgency of the matter and the speed with which the appeal has been heard, it is expected very soon.

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