Business Crime & Fraud
"They are intellectually sound, good lawyers and are very good at client care."
Chambers 2021, Financial Crime
Corker Binning advises individuals across a broad range of serious criminal cases in the business or financial sectors. Our clients typically include CEOs and senior company executives.
Business Crime and Fraud lawyers
Specialising in Business Crime and Fraud, we provide expert counsel on cases investigated by major authorities like the SFO, NCA, CMA, and CPS across sectors such as financial services and energy. Our experience includes high-profile SFO and FCA investigations, encompassing Libor/Euribor, Forex manipulations, and cases concerning major corporations like Airbus and Barclays Bank. With corporate accountability rising over the past two decades and financial crime investigations growing in complexity due to technological advances, our extensive experience enables us to offer expert advice on handling these complex investigations at both national and international levels.
Bribery & Corruption
We are proficient in handling cases of Bribery and Corruption, a practice area that has undergone significant changes in the past two decades, primarily due to the Bribery Act 2010. This act has expanded the scope of criminal offences in both the private and public sectors, including a new offence of corporate criminal liability, extending beyond UK borders. The rise of corporate self-reporting and cooperation with law enforcement has increased exposure to bribery and corruption allegations for directors and employees of multinational companies. We offer expert advice to both suspects and witnesses in these complex investigations, often led by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) or the National Crime Agency’s International Corruption Unit (ICU). Given the international nature of these investigations, we collaborate with reputable foreign lawyers to safeguard our clients’ interests in all jurisdictions where they face potential criminal implications.
We have substantial expertise in dealing with Cartels, where the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigates suspected cartels and determines if the specialized cartel criminal offence has been committed by individuals. This offence, aimed at those who devise and/or implement “hardcore” cartels, has been in place since 2003 and was revised in 2014 for easier prosecution. While companies cannot commit this offence and are subject to the civil enforcement regime, we find that close cooperation between the company and the individual suspect often leads to better outcomes. In some cases, this approach can lead to immunity or leniency deals from the CMA. As many cartel investigations are international, we regularly collaborate with foreign lawyers, particularly from the USA. We’ve been representing clients suspected of cartel complicity across various sectors like automotive, avionic, electrical, and construction for many years.
Companies House Prosecutions – Directors
We provide legal representation for directors in Companies House Prosecutions, where charges commonly stem from administrative failures such as the failure to submit accounts, a criminal offence under the Companies Act 2006. All directors of a company can be held personally liable for such offences, regardless of their direct involvement in account preparation. Although initial penalties usually consist of fines, these can rapidly accumulate with repeated breaches, particularly in complex group structures with ongoing accounting issues. A criminal conviction can have serious personal and professional consequences, including potential Company Director Disqualification Orders prohibiting involvement in company management for up to five years. While failures to file accounts and reports are typically due to business difficulties rather than intentional non-compliance, defending against criminal prosecution can be challenging. It’s important to note that directors may face personal criminal liability even when the responsibility for preparing and filing accounts has been delegated to a finance team.
Corporate Internal Investigations
Specialised assistance in Corporate Internal Investigations, which are crucial responses to the discovery of potential criminal activity or misconduct within an organization. We adopt a calculated approach that is proportionate to the circumstances and aims to mitigate the issue at hand. Our methodology involves conducting focused internal investigations, and deploying a structured team that includes experts in law, forensic accounting, IT, public relations, and foreign law. This flexibility allows us to tailor investigation teams to meet individual case demands. In larger cases, we provide independent expertise, particularly on the application of English criminal law. Whether concerns arise internally or externally, the process involves gathering and analyzing evidence from witnesses and documents, liaising with in-house auditing or legal teams, and if necessary, coordinating with regulators or prosecutors. We offer targeted advice, guiding our clients in taking appropriate and proportionate actions without overreacting.
Cum-ex trading refers to a share-dealing system aimed at reclaiming withheld capital gains tax on dividends paid by listed companies. This system became well-known in 2017 and was later identified as criminal tax evasion by the German Federal Court in 2021. Since its public recognition, there’s been a consistent flow of civil and criminal actions, as well as regulatory investigations across Europe, focusing on individuals and institutions allegedly involved in facilitating cum-ex transactions. The Financial Conduct Authority in the UK conducted a review of dividend arbitrage trading in 2017, hinting at potential enforcement action given the scale of the alleged misconduct. Moreover, extradition of suspects from the UK for cum-ex prosecutions has been successfully requested by Germany, Denmark, and Belgium since 2022. Corker Binning provides advisory services for regulated individuals linked to cum-ex trading in various European countries, addressing issues related to national authority condoning of cum-ex and the extent of misinformation and advice provided at different institutions.
UK law enforces two types of sanctions: trade and financial. Financial sanctions, such as asset freezes, have intensified since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, significantly impacting businesses with any ties to Russia. Corker Binning has expertise in handling businesses that may have breached these sanctions, aiding in potential civil or criminal liabilities. They assist in managing voluntary disclosures to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) to minimize prosecution risks. Moreover, they provide advice in situations where businesses are suspected of committing “sanctions busting” offences, and they help in “de-listing” applications to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) when unlawful designations occur.
Our HMRC investigation lawyers are experienced in handling complex investigations and prosecutions into tax fraud and money laundering. They strive to divert criminal cases towards civil settlements, working closely with forensic accountants to reconstruct historical tax liabilities. The firm also supports individuals and businesses, particularly in the financial sector, ensnared in HMRC or Revenue and Customs division of the CPS investigations, helping them navigate compulsory information provisions. Additionally, they offer guidance to businesses on investigations into breaches of money laundering regulations.
Insider Dealing & Market Abuse
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the FCA increased enforcement actions, necessitating specialist legal advice for individuals and firms under investigation. Corker Binning offers comprehensive assistance on a range of FCA enforcement activities, from insider dealing allegations to regulatory breaches. The firm navigates clients through all stages of the FCA’s investigative process, from fact-finding to compulsory interviews, and represents employees of regulated firms to achieve favourable outcomes. Our team is experienced in administrative and criminal procedures, offering strategic advice effective in both realms. We have advised clients in significant FCA investigations and prosecutions, including institutional failings like LIBOR and Forex. We work with international colleagues for cross-border investigations and provide advice for compelled FCA requests assisting overseas investigations.
Interviews Under Caution
Being invited to an interview under caution indicates suspicion of criminal conduct. This scenario requires advanced legal advice, as responses during this process can influence the future course of the investigation, including the possibility of charges. Your comments during a caution interview can be used as evidence against you, whereas non-cooperation can be wielded negatively by the prosecutor. Criminal investigators typically use caution interviews to gather your perspective or, if they’re already convinced of guilt, to coax admission. Interviews vary, making specialist legal advice crucial when choosing to answer questions, remain silent, or deliver a prepared statement. Corker Binning’s main goal in preparing clients for interviews under caution is to minimize the risk of prosecution. If unavoidable, we provide guidance on using the interview to build a robust defence case in court.
The UK’s rigorous money laundering laws under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 include penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment and potential asset confiscation. Authorities are widening investigations beyond fraud, increasingly utilising the Bribery Act 2010. Corker Binning’s lawyers help professionals entangled in these investigations, providing advice to minimize their impact. We also guide on compliance with the strict 2017 Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations, breaches of which can result in significant penalties. As the Financial Conduct Authority intensifies scrutiny on inadequate anti-money laundering controls within financial institutions, our firm offers expert advice and represents individuals facing criminal prosecution for violating these regulations.