Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Leonora SaganCall Date: 2012

Leonora has a broad commercial, civil fraud, and business crime practice representing corporations and high-net-worth individuals in complex disputes and investigations. She is recognised by The Legal 500 as a leading junior in Business and Regulatory Crime and has extensive experience in civil and criminal fraud, bribery, and corruption across a broad spectrum of sectors as well as in the context of asset tracing and forfeiture, arbitrations, judgment enforcement, contentious trust matters, and allegations of professional misconduct.

Leonora is currently representing the Man Group with Richard Lissack QC in Public Institution for Social Security of Kuwait v Man Group, featured in The Lawyer’s “Top 20 Cases of 2020”, concerning allegations of large-scale bribery. She is also acting in the criminal courts in connection with the first ever FCA prosecution under s.89 Financial Services Act 2012 for making misleading statements to the market. She regularly appears and advises on proceedings brought by the FCA and the SFO.

Before joining Fountain Court Leonora practiced as counsel at Kobre & Kim LLP in London and New York and represented clients in connection with proceedings and investigations in Russia, Brazil, Cyprus, Austria, Liechtenstein, Greece, and several offshore centres. In the English Courts she has appeared as counsel at all levels and has a particular interest in appellate and interlocutory work.

Her recent highlights include:

  • Tonstate v Wojakovski [2021] EWHC 1122 (Ch): Representing the successful respondent solicitors against allegations of contempt of court and breaching a Worldwide Freezing Order in failing to disclose the source of third-party funds received on behalf of a client who was subject to the WFO.
  • Axis Corporate Capital v ABSA Group Limited [2021] EWHC 861 (Comm): Acting (with Ben Lynch QC) for the defendant bank in resisting an application for an anti-suit injunction.
  • A v C [2020] EWCA Civ 409: Representing the successful appellants where the Court of Appeal held that a non-party witness to an arbitration could be compelled to give evidence by deposition under s.44(2)(a) Arbitration Act 1996 in support of a foreign-seated arbitration.
  • R (On the application of Oleg Deripaska) v (1) DPP (2) Vladimir Chernukhin (3) The Crown Court at Southwark [2020] EWHC 2918 (Admin): Advising Vladimir Chernukhin on both civil and criminal aspects of the continuing litigation with Oleg Deripaska. Leonora also represented Mr Chernukhin (together with Richard Lissack QC) in the private prosecution brought against him for allegedly perverting the course of justice and in the subsequent judicial review proceedings by which Mr Deripaska sought to challenge the DPP’s decision to discontinue the private prosecution.
  • Representing a leading accountancy firm in connection with allegations of bribery and professional misconduct arising from an internal investigation.

Areas of Expertise

  • Arbitration
  • Banking & Finance
  • Commercial Crime
  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Fraud: civil
  • Financial services
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • International arbitration
  • Professional discipline
  • Professional negligence

Other notable cases

CIVIL FRAUD AND COMMERCIAL CRIME

  • Representing a firm of solicitors against allegations of contempt of court and breaching a WFO.
  • Representing a top tier law firm in connection with allegations of malicious prosecution and fraudulent conduct under s. 2 Fraud Act 2006.
  • Representing a leading accountancy firm in connection with allegations of bribery and professional misconduct arising from an internal investigation.
  • Advising a global commodity trading firm in connection with freezing orders issued pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
  • Representing a Russian entrepreneur and banker subject to criminal and civil proceedings and mutual legal assistance treaty requests launched by the Deposit Insurance Agency of Russia in multiple jurisdictions (Russia, Austria, Liechtenstein, Cyprus, New York) for fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering.
  • Representing a Brazilian family subject to seizure of their UK-based assets in connection with “Operation Car Wash” and establishing a trust asset repatriation mechanism involving the UK, Jersey and Switzerland to satisfy fines levelled for alleged corruption under a deferred prosecution agreement.
  • Representing individuals subject to DOJ and SFO investigations following allegations of bribery in defending against asset forfeiture actions and civil recovery regimes under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The case also involved contentious trust issues that prompted several applications before the courts of the relevant offshore jurisdiction.
  • Representing the audit committee of a NYSE-listed company in pursuing a former director who had embezzled $300 million. The case involved the offensive use of insolvency strategies; liaising with the US government to advocate for a government-driven asset forfeiture scheme; and drawing up a global asset recovery strategy that anticipated the use of world-wide freezing orders and money laundering investigations in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Representing a HNWI in disputes with a former sovereign over allegations of improper receipt of commissions in state contracts. The case also focused on criminal investigations initiated in two jurisdictions over illicit financial transactions potentially involving money laundering.


COMMERCIAL DISPUTES

Leonora has a broad range of experience in commercial litigation and arbitration (including in trials, appeals, and interlocutory applications) at all levels. Representative matters include:

  • Axis Corporate Capital v ABSA Group Limited [2021] EWHC 861 (Comm): Defending (with Ben Lynch QC) against an anti-suit injunction issued to restrain South African proceedings.
  • Representing a private equity firm in an action for injunctive and declaratory relief against a former employee for misappropriation and wrongful retention of confidential documents (with Adam Tolley QC).
  • National Iranian Oil Company v Crescent Petroleum Company [2016] EWHC 510 (Comm):  Acting for NIOC in an application to set aside an arbitral award arising out of a gas supply agreement governed by Iranian law on grounds of fraud, corruption and bribery.
  • Sabbagh v Khoury [2014] EWHC 3233 (Comm)Representing a number of defendants in their challenge to the jurisdiction of the English court. The underlying claim alleged that they had conspired to deprive the claimant of over USD500m of assets.
  • Triple Point Technology Inc v PTT Public Co Ltd [2017] EWHC 2178 (TCC): Acting on a claim for payments under a software development contract where key questions arose as to entitlement to liquidated damages and the construction of a damages cap.
  • Acting for the BBC in defending against an interim injunction arising from a contract for the construction of a film set.
  • Christo v Marathon Advisory Service [2015] EWHC 1971 (QB): Acting as sole counsel in a High Court trial to resolve a dispute as to whether an estate agent was entitled to commission on the sale of a commercial property.

Shipping & Commodities 

Leonora has represented and advised clients in both shipping and commodities matters, including in respect of general voyage and time charterparty and bill of lading disputes; vessel arrest cases; LMAA arbitrations; cargo and guarantee claims; and disputes over jurisdiction. Other examples include:

  • Bunge v Nidera [2015] UKSC 43: Acting for the respondent in an appeal to the Supreme Court in connection with a dispute under the prohibition and default clauses of a GAFTA contract. The case involved complex questions as to whether the decision of the House of Lords in The Golden Victory [2007] UKHL 12 applied to a case of anticipatory breach.
  • Advising on issues arising from the OW Bunkers collapse.
  • Glencore International AG v PT Tera Logistic Indonesia [2016] EWHC 82 (Comm):  Acting for the successful appellant under s.69 Arbitration Act 1996 against a Tribunal’s finding that counterclaims were time-barred for the purposes of s.14(4) Arbitration Act 1996.
  • Lakatamia Shipping v Su [2014] EWHC 3611 (Comm); Su v Lakatamia Shipping [2015] EWCA Civ 511:  Acting for the defendant in a dispute over freight forwarding agreements.
  • Advising on the prospects of obtaining or setting aside anti-suit injunctions in the context of charterparty disputes with underlying arbitration clauses.


INSURANCE

  • Representing Natwest Bank in an insurance dispute arising in connection with the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme fraud (ongoing – with Stephen Moriarty QC).
  • Axis Corporate Capital v ABSA Group Limited [2021] EWHC 861 (Comm): Acting (with Ben Lynch QC) in both the anti-suit injunction proceedings and in the underlying insurance dispute in the Commercial Court.


INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION

Leonora has extensive experience of arbitral proceedings as well as appeals to the High Court in connection with the same under sections 67, 68 and 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996. She has acted in arbitrations under LCIA, LMAA, SIAC, GAFTA, FOSFA, Sugar Association and IBA rules.

Particular examples include:

  • Representing the successful appellants in A v C [2020] EWCA Civ 409 in which the Court of Appeal held that a non-party witness to an arbitration could be compelled to give evidence by deposition under s.44(2)(a) Arbitration Act 1996 in support of a foreign-seated arbitration.
  • Representing a US real estate advisory firm in an LCIA arbitration to recover damages for breach of contract by a global telecoms company.
  • Glencore International AG v PT Tera Logistic Indonesia [2016] EWHC 82 (Comm): Acting for the successful appellant under s.69 Arbitration Act 1996 against a Tribunal’s finding that counterclaims were time-barred for the purposes of s.14(4) Arbitration Act 1996.
  • National Iranian Oil Company v Crescent Petroleum Company [2016] EWHC 510 (Comm): Acting for NIOC in 67 and s.68 Arbitration Act 1996 challenges raising issues of illegality and public policy in respect of a contract said to have been procured by bribery.
  • X v Y, Z [2015] EWHC 395 (Comm): Acting for the respondent in an application for preliminary issues in a challenge to an arbitration award under sections 67 and 68 Arbitration Act 1996.


BANKING & FINANCE

  • Advising a US-based investment firm on English-law causes of action arising out of a Bank’s “last look” practices in foreign exchange trading.
  • Acting for RBS/NatWest as part of a s.166 skilled person team in the FCA-approved review of sales of Interest Rate Hedging Products.

Directory rankings

Leonora is ranked by The Legal 500 for her work in Business & Regulatory Crime (including Global Investigations).

Directory quotations

‘She has a sharp, systematic mind and deep knowledge of her area.’
The Legal 500

Education

  • LLM, Harvard Law School
  • BA (Philosophy and Modern and Medieval Languages), Wadham College, Oxford University (double first-class honours, ranking first in year)
  • BPTC, BPP College
  • GDL, BPP College

Appointments, memberships and prizes

  • Harvard Law School Long Paper Prize for Private Law (2018)
  • Harvard Law School Dean’s Scholarship for Private Law Workshop (2018)
  • Harvard Law School Dean’s Scholarship for Legal Profession (2018)
  • BPP College Director of BPTC Programmes’ Scholarship (2012)
  • Oxford University Gibbs Prize for Best Performance in Philosophy Finals (2010)
  • Wadham College, Oxford University, Takashi Kisaki Prize for Philosophy (2010)
  • Oxford University Apollo Grant for Academic Excellence (2008)
  • Scholar of Wadham College (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010)
  • Hellenic Society Essay Competition (First Place, 2007)
  • Oxford University Gibbs Prize for Best Performance in Literature Prelims (2006)

Publications

Leonora has co-authored the chapter on ‘Adequate Procedures in Practice’ in Lissack and Horlick on Bribery and Corruption (3rd edition, 2020). The chapter analyses the defence to corporate liability for bribery under s.7 Bribery Act 2010.

Languages

  • Greek (fluent)
  • Spanish (basic)

LinkedIn

Leonora’s LinkedIn profile can be found here.


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