A leading barrister whose clients have included the Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich is to lead a fight that could see banks forced to pay billions of pounds for rigging global currency markets.
Sky News has learnt that Danny Jowell QC of Brick Court Chambers has been recruited by Scott + Scott, a law firm which specialises in shareholder legal actions, to pursue damages from lenders including Barclays, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
An insider said Mr Jowell’s involvement was expected to be disclosed in a statement on Friday.
His recruitment is the latest indication that major institutional investors and companies are to take legal action in London over the foreign exchange manipulation scandal which has already cost banks huge sums in regulatory fines.
Authorities in the UK, US, Switzerland and elsewhere have hit global banks with massive penalties for traders’ misconduct, with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office also opening a criminal investigation into the affair.
In August, Scott + Scott agreed a $2bn settlement in New York with nine banks – including three of the UK’s biggest high street names.
Earlier this year, it also settled with banks including Citigroup and UBS, forcing them to pay sums totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.
Those victories on behalf of shareholders could be dwarfed by the eventual size of claims in London, reflecting the relative size of the two cities’ financial centres in forex trading.
The scale of prospective settlements with investors and corporates who allege that they were defrauded by the efforts to manipulate currency rates.
Mr Jowell represented Mr Abramovich in a long-running dispute with Boris Berezovsky, his fellow Russian oligarch, and has also acted for Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One boss.
The forex-rigging scandal has been one of a number of reputational disasters for the banking industry which emerged in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
Along with Libor-related fines and compensation for mis-selling insurance, the affair has prompted an overhaul of the way UK-based bank staff will be supervised by regulators.
A review of the implementation of recommendations made by the Fair and Effective Markets Review – set up by George Osborne and Mark Carney, the Bank of England Governor – is to be published next year.