Serious Fraud and Business Crime

Over many years we have gained very substantial experience in providing advice and representation to clients prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office, Police Serious Fraud Crime Units, the Department of Trade and Industry, HM Revenue & Customs, the Financial Services Authority and other regulatory authorities. Prior to any Court proceedings, we provide advice and representation during the investigatory stage of such matters.

It is our experience that such investigations and Court proceedings are very protracted in their length and require detailed, expert and specialist knowledge and representation. We have acted in some of the most complex high profile cases prosecuted in England and Wales, including R v Shahi, Sharma & Sharma (Operation Swale), described as the biggest visa fraud prosecution ever brought by the Home Office. We recently represented JF who was acquitted in relation to a multi million pound student visa fraud (this case is still subject to reporting restrictions).

The firm is a member of the VHCC Panel (Very High Cost Case Panel) which is a panel of solicitors able to undertake serious and complex cases of crime and commercial fraud under the Legal Aid Scheme, and which has effectively replaced the Serious Fraud Panel.

We offer free initial legal advice, either over the phone, via e-mail or face to face if required. We have offices in Hammersmith, London W6 and consulting rooms in Fleet Street, London EC4. Please contact us using the Contact Us link or direct to any of our team. Our initial advice is free. You can also contact us via e-mail, text message or by telephoning the FREEPHONE number 0800 458 3959.

We are able to provide expert advice and assistance in each of the following areas:

 

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Advance Fee Fraud

Typically these are high value, high profile frauds often involving an international and cross border dimension. Generally these prosecutions have involved trading in prime bank instruments or bank trading high yield investment programs with associated allegations of the taking of significant advance fees before trading may begin.

Another unusual and significant element of such alleged frauds often include those of a 'Ponzi' fraud where funds invested by later investors are alleged to have been utilised to repay earlier investors monies (as with Bernard Madoff). Such cases are inherently complex and may involve many investors or clients of investors and brokers.

This firm is frequently asked to assist clients who have already, during the course of an investigation or Court proceedings, instructed Solicitors. We are used to dealing with such enquiries and advising as to the transfer of a case from previous Solicitors to this practice. It is important to those the subject of an investigation or prosecution, that they are confident in the Solicitors that they instruct and that they consider those that act for them are doing everything they possibly can to assist.

Fraudulent Trading

Commercial and business fraud is wide-ranging and can involve investigations and prosecutions brought by a number of different Government agencies including, HM Revenue and Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Financial Services Authority and the Serious Fraud Office, to name but a few.

Inevitably, investigations conducted by the Police, in conjunction with the Serious Fraud Office, into complex allegations of fraud can be lengthy and have a devastating impact upon the individuals and businesses who are suspected of involvement in such matters.

We provide expert legal fraud defence advice and representation throughout the country to those suspected of, or charged with such offences. We have many years experience in representing clients who have been the subject of investigations conducted, and prosecuted, by the Serious Fraud Office.

We are members of the VHCC Panel and are able to conduct the provision of advice and representation in fraud defence, either on a private fee paying basis or through public funding through Legal Aid.

We are a dedicated and expert firm of specialist fraud defence lawyers with an outstanding reputation for the tenacious defence of cases of serious fraud and serious crime.

Money Laundering

Allegations of money laundering arise in respect of the concealment, disposal, transfer and removal of property derived from criminal activity or the laundering acquiring, using and possessing any such property. Such an offence is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.

Money Laundering Prosecutions have increased dramatically since the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and the Money Laundering Regulations 2003. It is a matter of considerable importance to all professional advisors such as Solicitors, Accountants, Financial and Tax Brokers, Estate Agents and others connected with the acquisition of the disposal of property or other assets.

Obligations have been imposed on professionals and institutions to report transactions which are either known to be, are suspected to be or ought to reasonably have been known to be money laundering.

It is common for those facing Prosecution in relation to criminal activity to face a Money Laundering Investigation and Prosecution associated with the benefit from criminal conduct.

VAT Fraud

We provide expert legal defence advice and defence representation, throughout the country, to those suspected of, or charged with, offences involving VAT fraud, including Carousel fraud, otherwise known as Missing Trader Intra Community Fraud (MTIC Fraud).

VAT fraud and Carousel fraud frequently involve very complex intra company trading arrangements between UK and European Union based companies, involving goods, such as computer chips and mobile phones. Such frauds are often referred to as computer chip frauds or mobile phone frauds with a carousel of companies involved – hence carousel fraud.

Enquiries by HM Revenue and Customs and other investigative bodies into Carousel fraud and VAT fraud are frequently lengthy and wide-ranging involving the activities of many companies and individuals. Prosecutions for Carousel fraud and VAT fraud are long and complex and require expert legal defence representation. Conviction frequently results in substantial sentences of imprisonment and orders for confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Obtaining expert defence solicitors at an early stage is vital. Public funding (Legal Aid) may be available for legal defence representation in Carousel fraud and VAT fraud cases.

Directors’ Disqualification

Disqualification Orders can be imposed on Directors of Companies to prevent such individuals from being involved in the management of Companies in the future. Such Disqualification Orders can be made in either Criminal or Civil Courts.

Breach of such a Disqualification Order is a criminal offence and such conduct may well therefore be the subject of a prosecution usually involving circumstances of an individual being a sham Director. Disqualification periods will be imposed which range from 2 to 15 years. Such proceedings can be defended and we regularly advise on such matters either as to the initial disqualification or as to defending prosecutions which follow in respect of breach of Disqualification Orders.

Such matters generally arise from companies being placed into voluntary liquidation of administrative receivership where there is a requirement for the receiver to report as to the conduct of Company Directors.

Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud may include submitting a claim for compensation for injuries supposedly sustained in an accident which never actually happened, or claiming for the value of items not actually lost in a break-in or fire.

The law regards any contract of insurance as one involving the “utmost good faith” on both sides. This means that each party to the contract has a duty to disclose to the other all relevant facts.

Insurance companies maintain sizeable departments dedicated to uncovering dishonest claims and such cases are likely to be referred to the police for investigation. Anyone investigated in this way may find themselves prosecuted under the provisions of the Fraud Act 2006, which makes it an offence to make false or misleading statements or to fail to disclose facts, with the intention of benefiting yourself. The punishment for so doing can be up to 10 years in prison.

Pension Fraud

Pension fraud may arise through a claim for benefits under a pension scheme to which the person claiming is not in fact entitled. A contract with a pension provider is a form of insurance contract. The law regards any contract of insurance as one involving the “utmost good faith” on both sides. This means that each party to the contract has a duty to disclose to the other all relevant facts.

Insurance companies maintain sizeable departments dedicated to uncovering dishonest claims and such cases are likely to be referred to the police for investigation. Anyone investigated in this way may find themselves prosecuted under the provisions of the Fraud Act 2006, which makes it an offence to make false or misleading statements or to fail to disclose facts, with the intention of benefiting yourself. The punishment for so doing can be up to 10 years in prison.

Alternatively, fraud may also be committed by those responsible for the running of a company pension scheme. The Fraud Act 2006 also makes it an offence for a person who occupies a position in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of another person to abuse that position in order to benefit himself or some third party. Again the punishment for doing so can be up to 10 years in prison.

The operation of company pension schemes is strictly regulated and subject to the supervision of the Pensions Regulator.

SFO Investigations and Prosecution

Commercial and business fraud is wide-ranging and can involve investigations and prosecutions brought by a number of different Government agencies including, HM Revenue and Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Financial Services Authority and the Serious Fraud Office, to name but a few.

Inevitably, investigations conducted by the Police, in conjunction with the Serious Fraud Office, into complex allegations of fraud can be lengthy and have a devastating impact upon the individuals and businesses who are suspected of involvement in such matters.

We provide expert legal fraud defence advice and representation throughout the country to those suspected of, or charged with such offences. We have many years experience in representing clients who have been the subject of investigations conducted, and prosecuted, by the Serious Fraud Office.

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Charles Worthington
Director, VHCC & Civil Dept Supervisor
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