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A trio of Australian expatriate lawyers working at their own firm in Kazakhstan has been found guilty by a Sydney court of conspiring to steal clients and millions of dollars in fees from another expat-led firm at which they once worked, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The Aussies — John Forster Emmott, a onetime partner at U.K. firm Richards Butler; Robert Nicholls, a former partner at leading Australian firm Freehills; and David Slater, a former in-house lawyer at Australian bank Westpac — reportedly lured oil and gas clients from the Almaty-based Michael Wilson & Partners. That firm’s British founder, Michael E. Wilson, was formerly a partner for Baker & McKenzie in the region. Justice Clifford Einstein of the Supreme Court of New South Wales found that Emmott, who joined Michael Wilson in 2001 as a director and senior lawyer, breached his fiduciary duty by sending clients and work to the competing firm launched by Nicholls and Slater. The firm, which Emmott would himself join in 2006, was called Temujin International Ltd., apparently after the original name of Genghis Khan. Einstein has ordered Temujin to cough up its profits for 2006 and part of 2007. It could be a tidy sum. According to an earlier Morning Herald story, the Kazakh firms operated more as investment banks than law firms, guiding formerly state-owned natural resources companies through capital markets transactions on London’s Alternative Investment Market. The Michael Wilson firm has charged that Emmott received secret payments from certain clients, including one $900,000 amount as well as a bloc of shares worth $40 million.

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