What’s an American lawyer doing representing a banker in the biggest U.K. banking scandal in recent years?
Doing his job, that’s what.
West Palm Beach lawyer Brad Kaufman, vice president of the Greenberg Traurig law firm, represents one of four U.K. men charged with various offenses in connection with a long-running investigation into one of the world’s largest banks, Barclays.
The United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office in June said former Barclays Chief Executive Officer John Varley, former chairman of investment banking for the Middle East Roger Jenkins, ex-wealth chief Thomas Kalaris, and Richard Boath, the former European head of the bank’s financial institutions group, face charges, along with the bank itself.
Kaufman, co-chair of Greenberg’s global securities litigation group, represents Jenkins.
Kaufman met him years ago when Jenkins and his wife were vacationing in Palm Beach. Since then, Kaufman said he’s represented Jenkins, who now lives in Malibu, in various bank matters.
But past work is nothing like what Jenkins is facing now.
The men, and the bank, are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation in relation to fundraising in 2008. Barclays raised billions from Qatar in a move that allowed the bank to avoid taking a taxpayer bailout.
Jenkins’ work to find Middle East investors willing to pour money into the bank now is coming back to haunt him. But Kaufman defended Jenkins, saying he “wouldn’t have taken part in any capitalization program without legal advice, both internal and external, to cover every issue raised by the SFO.”
Kaufman said Jenkins “intends to vigorously fight these charges.”
The British press has been agog over the charges, particularly since they come nearly a decade after the global banking crisis. In fact, this is the first time criminal action has been taken against any senior U.K. bankers for events dating to the 2008 financial crisis.
Kaufman said his represenation of Jenkins reflects the globalization of law, and the fact that lawyers can and do handle matters around the globe — and not just lawyers from New York or London but West Palm Beach, too. “This is a real life example of that,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman said technology allows clients to work with professionals of their choice, without relying exclusively on geographic location.
But Kaufman acknowledges he’s been a bit of a curiosity to British barristers, who at first wondered why a Yankee is involved in the case. “But then they accepted me into the fold,” he said.