Legatum Group response to The Sunday Times article, 3rd December 2017

This is in response to the Sunday Times article dated 3rd December 2017 relating to The Legatum Institute Foundation and the Legatum Group.

  1. The media attention on The Legatum Institute Foundation and the Legatum Group is part of a coordinated campaign to reverse the results of the Brexit referendum. It is being driven by well-funded and outspoken political operatives who are campaigning to reverse the results of the Brexit referendum and damage anyone who is seen to contribute constructively to the need for creative solutions at a time of national transition.

    The Legatum Institute Foundation has made it clear that it is neither “for” nor “against” Brexit, but as the people have spoken, it is focused on generating ideas and solutions that can help lead to the best Brexit outcome possible for the nation. We support this view.

    Sadly, not everyone wants to engage in the issues or have an honest debate. Some will even resort to implausible calls for official inquiries and inappropriate interventions by the Government to attempt to intimidate their opponents and silence those with whom they disagree. This current round of attacks is mobilised by people with a clear agenda who hope to overturn the result of the referendum.

    Today, the Sunday Times highlights that those calling for an inquiry into the Legatum Group and The Legatum Institute Foundation are “Remainer MPs”. In addition, a leading voice in this informal campaign is tax barrister, Jolyon Maugham, QC, whom the Sunday Times’ sister paper, the Times, yesterday credited with campaigning “to reverse Brexit” and who wants to “review” the Institute’s status. Their goal is to undo Brexit, and their tactics include what the Sunday Times alluded to as “dirty tricks” (3rd December, 2017).

  2. The Sunday Times story relies heavily on a single source: Robert Eringer. Eringer has been convicted of criminal defamation five times and widely criticised and disbelieved by many sources over many years. It is disappointing that the Sunday Times would give the oxygen of publicity under its preeminent banner to stale and groundless suspicions of a convicted defamer, but even more so when the Sunday Times themselves report that ”No evidence of wrongdoing was found.”.

    Regarding their own source and claims, the Sunday Times, when stating that it “has been unable to corroborate any of the sensational claims” reported in its story, also says the following:
    • “historic allegations about the Chandlers — none of which have been substantiated”;
    • “Eringer has never produced evidence to suggest the Chandlers were involved in any unlawful activity”;
    • “Eringer has been found by the French courts to have defamed public figures on a blog”;
    • “The claim was subsequently withdrawn and the allegations were not repeated after lawyers for Albert described them as ‘scurrilous and irrelevant’”;
    • “No evidence of wrong- doing was found”.


    It turns out that The Sunday Times were credulous in their treatment of Eringer, their source for this story. A simple search on Google shows that not only was Eringer convicted of criminal defamation, but his credibility has been brought in to question by members of the media and bloggers for years. For example:

    • An article in Forbes magazine describes Eringer as "a bitter person who spews his venom and resentments on the Internet” and a "shakedown artist”.
    • In The Independent, the lawyer for the Prince of Monaco described Eringer’s lawsuit as “improper” explaining that "He is trying to exploit the US judicial system to generate publicity to forward his extortionist agenda".


    For the publicly available links relating to the defamation cases against Robert Eringer, please see:


    Finally it appears that Mr. Eringer confused the “Sovereign” companies which the Chandler brothers operated to manage their personal funds, with the wholly unrelated Zurich-based “Sovereign Finance Group” in Switzerland, which did appear to have trouble with the Swiss authorities. The Zurich-based Sovereign Finance Group was alleged to have been involved in numerous misdeeds and associations with Russian elements – resulting in the Swiss authorities allegedly closing it down. There are numerous articles about the Zurich-based Sovereign Finance Group, and its problems with the authorities. You can find some of them here:-


    Neither the Chandler brothers nor their Sovereign business ever had any relationship or connection with the Swiss-based Sovereign Group of Companies whatsoever. We are disappointed to see that the Sunday Times has chosen to even obliquely refer to this embarrassingly obvious case of mistaken identity, proffered by the discredited Eringer.

  3. The Chandler brothers operated their private family office and personal investment affairs through their company “Sovereign” out of Monaco for nearly 20 years. They enjoyed an excellent reputation for ethical business practices and as stalwart advocates for good corporate governance. The Chandlers and Sovereign invested in the publicly traded shares of companies around the world for decades. Like any other successful investor, their investment strategy has always been to look for value and invest in companies with a long-term perspective. Over several decades they often invested in emerging markets, providing capital to support the growth and sustainability of companies and sometimes were among the only investors allocating capital to companies and markets when it was most needed.

    The Chandlers’ business and investments were conducted through international financial institutions, all of which have stringent regulatory requirements. Moreover, all of the Chandlers’ business activities have been continuously audited by one of the world’s largest and most respected accounting firms, EY, for the last three decades.

    The Chandlers and Sovereign complied with all laws and regulations relating to their life and business while in Monaco and were never notified of any concern about their business or residency in the Principality. The truth about the Chandlers is that for nearly 20 years they ran their private office and personal investment business out of Monaco without interference from any authority and their integrity was never challenged. Finally, the Sunday Times is erroneous in reporting that the Chandlers turned $10 million into $10 billion in 10 years, although that would have been nice!

     

  4. The Sunday Times suggests that the Monaco authorities investigated Christopher Chandler. It is not clear whether this was an officially-sanctioned investigation or something concocted by Robert Eringer, a thoroughly discredited source. The fact is that the official Monaco authorities never pursued the matter. This speaks for itself. The only person official Monaco authorities pursued was The Sunday Times’ source, Robert Eringer, eventually exacting five criminal defamation judgments against him. The Monaco authorities have never approached, questioned or even notified the Chandlers with respect to any alleged impropriety whatsoever, and any implication to the contrary is completely false and utter nonsense.


  5. The Legatum Group stands by the prior public statements made by us, and made by the Legatum Institute Foundation in response to recent media reports, respectively found http://www.li.com/media/press-releases/our-response-to-the-mail-on-sunday-article-26-november-2017 and https://www.legatum.com/news/legatum-groups-response-to-the-mail-on-sunday-article-26th-november-2017/.

 

Click here to download our response

 

We note that the Mail on Sunday has also published a misleading piece entitled “Secretive institute behind Boris and Gove's Brexit letter to 'hijack' Number 10 faces probe by charity watchdog”. Please see the Legatum Institute Foundation’s reponse here.

Questions were raised about the provenance of three references on this page so we have removed them pending further review.