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Press Statement - Foreign Office Urged to Take Immediate Steps to Prevent Extradition

LONDON, 7 November 2020 – Counsel to Jonathan Taylor, Toby Cadman of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, calls on the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to take immediate steps to prevent the extradition of a whistle-blower to Monaco who disclosed unprecedented bribery and corrupt practices in the oil industry,

Jonathan Taylor is a British national who, during the course of his employment in the Principality of Monaco, as a lawyer for the Dutch firm SBM Offshore, uncovered an enormous corruption and bribery scandal that resulted in criminal investigations in the four countries resulting in fines of more than eight hundred million dollars and the imprisonment of individuals directly involved.

On 30 July 2020, Jonathan Taylor was arrested on an Interpol Red Notice issued by Monaco, alleging offences of bribery and corruption. He was held in detention for a number of days before being released on stringent bail conditions preventing him from leaving the city limits of Dubrovnik, surrendering his passport and lodging a financial security with the Court.

On 1 September 2020, a Court in Dubrovnik ordered his extradition after having only considered the procedural requirements for extradition, completing ignoring the abundance of material submitted by the defence as to his status as a whistle-blower and the real risk that he faced if he was surrendered to the Monegasque authorities. An appeal was submitted to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia.

On 12 October 2020, the Supreme Court partially upheld the appeal and returned the matter to the Dubrovnik Court for reconsideration. The Supreme Court ruled, rather illogically, that directed the United Kingdom is to provide a statement as to whether it sought surrender under the European Arrest Warrant Scheme. It further ordered that in the event that the United Kingdom does not seek his surrender then the lower Court should rule on the request for extradition by Monaco.

On 20 October 2020, the County Court in Dubrovnik wrote to the ‘competent authority’ of the United Kingdom requesting such a statement.

On 30 October 2020, the National Crime Agency responded to the authorities of the Republic of Croatia confirming that “…it will not be making a request” for his extradition.

The FCDO has not confirmed whether it would be making any further representations to the authorities of the Republic of Croatia. However, it has confirmed that it unable “…to interfere in another country’s processes and our obligations to respect their systems…” and that it did not “…have any evidence at this stage that proper legal procedures are not being followed, either by the Croatian or Monegasque authorities…”

Such a position by the FCDO is wholly unsustainable and entirely disingenuous.

Jonathan is whistle-blower. He is a protected witness. He has taken extraordinary steps putting his own personal safety and the economic security of his family at risk in order to ensure that those persons who have engaged in corrupt practices on a truly monumental and unprecedented scale. There is no evidence to justify the bringing of criminal charges and if he were to be extradited there is a very real risk that he would be the victim of a flagrant denial of justice.

Monaco has failed to initiate a single criminal investigation into highly credible and well documented allegations of bribery and corruption on the part of SBM Offshore. In fact, in 2018, it refused to extradite an oil executive to the United Kingdom on the very same charges that it now seeks Jonathan’s extradition.

The FCDO continues to maintain the standard line of non-interference. This is disingenuous and misleading for two important reasons.

First of all it has intervened on numerous occasions in the past. The list of 12 cases below is a mere snapshot of the times in which the UK, has intervened:

Secondly, the United Kingdom has been requested to intervene by the Court and must now use that opportunity to do so. It must not only inform the County Court in Dubrovnik that it is not seeking extradition, but also that it does not support his surrender to Monaco where he is at real risk of a flagrant denial of justice. To leave Jonathan to languish in Croatia, or worse, in a prison cell in Monaco would represent the most appalling dereliction of duty to a British national who has, with no regard for his own well-being, acted in the public interest to disclose corrupt practices in the oil industry.

Once again we must highlight the fact that it is not just Jonathan’s fate which hangs in the balance, it is the very existence of the protections afforded to whistle-blowers and investigative journalists the world over.

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Date: 8 November 2020

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