Four media outlets in the UK and the US are facing libel claims after publishing investigative reports into allegations about the assets of a fund named after the former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), openDemocracy and the Telegraph received several “pre-action” letters between May and August claiming their reporting was inaccurate and caused financial losses to a UK-registered company.
A claim was subsequently filed at the high court on 16 August but the publishers have not yet been served.
The legal action has reignited the debate whether strategic lawsuits against public participation (Slapps) are being used to chill public-interest journalism.
Dominic Raab, who was justice secretary until he was removed by Liz Truss, had announced proposals in July for courts in England and Wales to be given greater powers to dismiss legal actions against reporters and publishers writing in the public interest, which were found to be lacking in merit at an early stage.
The claim against TBIJ, openDemocracy and the Telegraph has been brought on behalf of Jusan Technologies, a company registered at Companies House in the UK, and the Nazarbayev Fund Private Fund. The fund is also suing the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in the US, with a claim for compensatory damages of more than $75,000 (£68,000) and punitive damages.
The articles complained of had been reporting on allegations of financial links between Jusan, the Nazarbayev fund, and Nazarbayev and his family. Lawyers for Jusan and the fund said the allegations were incorrect and defamatory.
The US law firm Boies Schiller Flexner has been hired to represent Jusan and the fund, and it said it was notRead more on theguardian.com