Business Crime & Fraud
Business crime & fraud
“They are fantastic – they are experts who are cerebral and think intellectually about issues.”
CHAMBERS UK 2021
Our business crime and fraud lawyers have extensive experience advising individuals and companies on the whole spectrum of business crime and fraud cases.
These cases have included large international frauds spanning several jurisdictions, prosecutions of serious and complex fraud by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and National Crime Agency (NCA), as well as smaller domestic frauds prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
We have advised on investigations and prosecutions for conspiracy to defraud, offences under the Fraud Act 2006 (including fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information and fraud by abuse of position), false accounting, theft, tax fraud, mortgage fraud, advance fee fraud, credit card fraud, identity fraud, land banking fraud and boiler room fraud. This experience complements the firm’s wider business crime expertise in areas such as bribery and corruption, insider dealing, money laundering and cartels.
In recent years, investigations and prosecutions of business crime and fraud have increasingly been generated by corporate internal investigations, whereby the corporate has investigated itself and self-reported wrongdoing to a law enforcement authority. Individuals can quickly find themselves exposed as the corporate struggles to portray itself as cooperative and seeks to apportion blame. This trend is only likely to continue if the corporate offence of failing to prevent fraud is enacted.
For most individuals, a criminal investigation will start suddenly, with dawn raids, seizures of property, arrests and interviews under caution. Sometimes a company or individual’s assets may be frozen under a restraint order or asset freezing order. It is imperative that, in these early stages of an investigation, the right strategy is adopted, so that a suspect does everything possible to avoid prosecution. Our lawyers are experienced in knowing how to engage constructively with criminal investigators – whether that is the SFO, FCA, NCA or police forces including the City of London police and Metropolitan police – whilst protecting our clients’ best interests.
Fraud cases are usually document heavy and contain a morass of complex financial data. The defence lawyer needs to be able to work patiently and skilfully through this evidence in order to highlight the important documents and draw meaningful connections between them. The lawyer needs to be able to think laterally, to challenge his own preconceptions and to return to documents which at first glance appeared to be irrelevant. Above all, the lawyer needs to be able, despite the density of the evidence, to retain the ability to see the wood from the trees, so that resources are devoted (both by the lawyer and the client) to the issues that really matter.
We know how to prepare clients for the task of providing instructions on document heavy fraud cases. We prepare these cases meticulously: we draw up schedules analysing the evidence; we prepare detailed plans which enable us to take our clients’ instructions in a structured and logical fashion; we think critically so that we challenge our clients where appropriate about these instructions and we work with our clients to draft comprehensive and accurate records of their instructions which are used to focus on the strengths and weaknesses in a case, as well as to brief Counsel. These are the building blocks upon which the important tactical decisions can then be made about how to advance our clients’ best interests – should we write to the investigator to argue that our client should not be charged with an offence? Can the admissibility of any of the evidence be challenged? Is expert evidence required? Should we apply for the case to be dismissed?
We are proud of our market-leading expertise in business crime and fraud cases. We aim to prepare each case – regardless of the size or public profile of the alleged fraud – to the highest possible standards. If you are a suspect or defendant in a criminal fraud case, or you have been asked to attend a compulsory interview with the SFO (a section 2 interview) or the FCA (a section 165 or 171 interview), please call us on 020 7353 6000 and ask to speak to one of the partners to see if we might be able to help you.
Recent and current cases in which our business crime lawyers and fraud lawyers have acted:
- Acting for a number of individuals in the SFO and FCA investigations into alleged LIBOR, EURIBOR and FOREX manipulation, as well as the related US investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
- Acting for suspects or witnesses in the SFO fraud investigations/prosecutions involving Tesco (where we acted for the former CEO), Barclays Bank/Qatar (where we act for the former CEO), ENRC, G4S/Serco, JJB Sports, Quindell, Bank of England liquidity auctions, Kaupthing and Olympus.
- Acting in a number of large-scale insider trading, market abuse and land banking investigations/prosecutions brought by the FCA and/or the City of London police.
- Acting in a range of smaller frauds prosecuted by the CPS usually based on alleged false representations or abuse of position in employer/employee relationships.