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JUL
18

Money Laundering

It was recently reported that Spanish police have searched the headquarters of Santander Bank, amid suspicions that the bank has been involved in money laundering and tax evasion on the part of some of its clients. This story stems from an ongoing investigation into the Falciani List of accounts from HSBC’s Swiss private bank in Geneva. The list included the names of over 100,000 suspected tax evaders, approximately 600 of whom were Spanish nationals.

The issues of tax evasion and money laundering are some of the most vexing for governments, and have been particularly topical issues in recent months. The rules governing money laundering have become particularly prominent, with reports in the UK suggesting that the regulatory framework is to be enhanced in the not-too-distant future.

The complexity of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) framework and the difficulty in implementing it often calls for partnership with an experienced legal advisor in order to design a sophisticated plan in order to meet legal obligations. At Lewis Nedas, we are often sought out by clients to advise on the AML rules that apply in the UK. In this blog post, we review the established framework and provide an overview of the steps that need to be taken to comply with them. 

How are we to understand the term ‘money laundering’?

Arguably one of the most important steps to be taken in attempting to understand a set of rules or laws, is to develop an appreciation for the behaviour that they are designed to regulate. The rules governing Money Laundering are designed to prevent businesses and individuals from using money that is the result of some kind of criminal act, in order to purchase legitimate or ‘clean’ assets. The difficulty for regulators, and often the reason why AML rules are so complex, is that it can be very difficult to identify illegitimate funds at the outset.

What is the law on money laundering?

The relevant rules governing money laundering in the UK are contained within the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (the “2007 Regulations”). This set of rules applies to a variety of different businesses in the UK, ranging from financial service type operations through to those involved in the provision of accountancy services. It is vital that you find out whether or not these rules apply to your business. The different business sectors to which these rules apply will have their own regulator, which will in turn supervise compliance 2007 Regulations. The principal enforcing authorities for the 2007 Regulations in the UK are: 

  1. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

The FCA is charged with policing the activities of businesses providing ‘financial services’, which in turn will cover the provision of a number of different services - mortgage credit, factoring, financing of commercial deals, money broking and financial trading.

  1. Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

HMRC is responsible for regulating compliance with the 2007 Regulations by businesses that, amongst other things, accept cash of more than €15,000 in exchange for goods, provide any kind of accountancy type service, offer trust or company oriented services, or operate as an estate agency.

It is important to understand that the fact that a particular kind of business is not explicitly listed above does not mean that the Regulations will not apply. Other kinds of service providers including regulated professionals will be expected to observe the terms of the 2007 Regulations, and their regulator will be responsible for supervising compliance with the 2007 Regulations.

Another important point to note is that money laundering is something that many governments, including the UK’s, are anxious to end. Notwithstanding the sophisticated rules already in place in the UK, it has been recently suggested that businesses may soon face additional obligations under anti-money laundering legislation (see here). The team at Lewis Nedas will be watching developments on this point with great interest, and will be reporting on developments as and when they arise.

What steps do businesses need to take to meet their obligations?

The purpose of the 2007 Regulations is to prevent a business from becoming embroiled in money laundering. In order to achieve this, the 2007 Regulations place obligations on businesses to design their organisation in a way that reduces the risk of money laundering taking place. This can be particularly difficult, and is something that will need to be kept in mind as a business evolves. Some of the more important aspects of the 2007 Regulations that businesses should be aware of include:

  • the need to assess the risk of the business becoming involved in money laundering
  • reviewing the details of business customers and confirming their identity at regular intervals
  • investigating the structure of corporate clients to establish where ownership lies
  • maintaining an accurate record of all transactions and the parties involved
  • training employees to identify and guard against potential risks for the business becoming involved in the commission of money laundering

What are the penalties for breaching the 2007 Regulations? 

Regulators have significant powers to sanction organisations that violate the 2007 Regulations. The most popular tool used by regulators to penalise businesses that breach their obligations is a fine, which can in some instances be significant – depending on the level of breach. It is therefore vital that organisations not only design an AML framework to comply with the 2007 Regulations, but actively apply this in all of their dealings with clients and trading partners. 

The AML obligations on businesses can be onerous, and can be very difficult to understand. If you are in any way concerned about the 2007 Regulations, or need assistance in ensuring compliance with them, then you should take specialist advice.

Lewis Nedas is a leading city law firm providing advice to clients of various sizes, operating across a range of sectors on their obligations under the 2007 Regulations. Our lawyers are among some of the leaders in their respective spheres, and they pride themselves on providing tailored, accessible advice to clients in order to comply with their obligations. Our history of working with clients who are facing investigations for compliance with the 2007 Regulations has gained us a reputation as trusted counsel who help to protect our clients’ business interests and commercial reputation. If you would like to know more about how the AML framework works, or to speak to one of our team on how we could help you, contact us today.

 

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JUL
18

Bribery Across the Pond

It was recently reported that an admiral in the US Navy has pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities investigating a multi-million dollar fraud scheme.

Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau is reported to have admitted to having lied to US authorities investigating the suspected bribery of Navy officers by a Malaysian contractor, who is said to have provided gifts and dinners to the officers in exchange for classified information which he then used to overcharge the US Navy. The investigation is on-going and is said to be one of the worst to have hit the US navy in recent history. 

The crime of bribery is one that has received a significant amount of attention on the global stage in recent years involving, amongst others, some of the worlds most decorated athletes and powerful organisations. At Lewis Nedas, we are routinely sought out by clients to provide pragmatic, tailored legal advice and representation to clients facing allegations of bribery. In this blog post, we review the UK’s legal framework for dealing with the offence of bribery and what needs to be done to guard against any allegation of being implicated in committing the offence.

How is the offence of ‘bribery’ legally defined?

The offence of bribery is governed by the Bribery Act 2010 (the “2010 Act”). Interestingly, the 2010 Act does not identify a single offence of bribery, but narrates a list of ‘general bribery offences’, including:

  • Offences of bribing another person;
  • Offences relating to being bribed;
  • Bribery of foreign public officials.

The offence of bribery is quite sophisticated and can, at times, be difficult for regulatory and prosecuting authorities to identify. This is why the 2010 Act has been drafted to be so wide-ranging. Essentially, while the offences listed above are technically distinct, bribery (in one or another form) relates to the providing of a benefit – tangible or intangible – in order to persuade someone to do something other than what is legally expected of them in the circumstances. Examples include:

  • A contractor bribing company (or public) officials with gifts or hospitality with a view to securing a piece of work or receiving preferential rates over their competitors (not unlike in the situation currently being investigated in the US);
  • An individual or organisation making significant financial contributions to a political party or government with a view to influencing decision-making; and
  • An individual or organisation providing financial benefit to a regulatory official to overlook any breaches of codes of practice or health and safety legislation.

An important point to note regarding the offence of Bribery under the 2010 Act is the fact that it criminalises both (i) the offering of a bribe; and (ii) the taking of a bribe. Furthermore, the Act penalises those individuals/ organisations that offer or accept a bribe and will also penalise those organisations that do not put sufficiently robust guards in place to avoid being implicated in the commission of the offence. 

Does the 2010 Act only apply to individuals?

As mentioned above, commercial bodies together with individuals are governed by the 2010 Act – both are vulnerable to being charged with the offence of having committed bribery. This is particularly important for those organisations that operate on the international stage: senior employees who are directed to seek out new opportunities may unintentionally implicate your business in bribery. Many businesses operate in countries with a business culture that is different to that in the UK – this may involve the granting of hospitality, or the provision of gifts etc. However, the fact that another country allows a particular business practice which is different to that which would be accepted in the UK can give rise to legal issues. If an organisation has a base in the UK, and it operates internationally, its actions abroad could make it liable in the UK for having committed bribery. The point to appreciate is that, if a business’s activities internationally are deemed to be illegal under the terms of the 2010 Act, this can give rise to allegations of bribery (even if the local, cultural practice does not treat the activities as being illegal).

How can you avoid violating the 2010 Act?

The 2010 Act places responsibility with individuals and businesses to take active steps to avoid being implicated in the commission of bribery. In the case of individuals, they must do everything in their power to avoid becoming involved in any kind of activity which could, under UK legislation, be deemed to be bribery. This is also true of UK businesses. This can be particularly difficult for those businesses that are operating across national borders, where there may be a need to take a particular position in terms of placing their legal obligations above cultural niceties. Moreover, the 2010 Act also places an obligation on organisations to design and implement practices and procedures that reduce the likelihood of bribery taking place.

What happens if there are allegations of bribery?

The drafting of the 2010 Act means that it is relatively easy to unintentionally breach the legislation, especially for businesses who may be implicated in the actions of their employees. That being said, it is important to understand that there is a defence for the charge of having committed bribery: organisations can defend against such a claim, provided they are able to demonstrate that they had implemented ‘adequate procedures’ that were designed to prevent them (through their employees) from becoming involved in bribery.

The 2010 Act does not expressly define what ‘adequate procedures’ means, which places a heavy burden on organisations to prove that they had taken every reasonable precaution to avoid becoming involved in bribery. Essentially, ‘adequate procedures’ tends to involve a framework whereby a business can train its staff to police against bribery; monitor the implementation of anti-bribery policies; and report back on gaps in the framework and identify ways to address these before any offence is committed. Businesses would be well advised to take their obligations under the 2010 Act seriously, particularly given that prosecuting authorities have a lower threshold to meet in terms of prosecuting the offence than individuals and/ or businesses have in defending against any such claim.

Who can I speak to about representing my business?

At Lewis Nedas, we are specialists in the field of corporate crime, and are routinely sought out by organisations of varying sizes to provide comprehensive legal advice and representation. Our lawyers understand the challenges of operating in the international sphere, and in ensuring that employees conduct themselves in a way that does not endanger business interests. If you are concerned about how the 2010 Act operates, or what this could potentially mean for you and your business, contact us today. We will be happy to review your situation and provide you with detailed guidance to address your concerns.

 

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JUL
18

Lewis Nedas Law appointed to the Office Essential Network as Specialist Employment Lawyers in North London

office essentialOur employment lawyers have joined the Office Essential Network, which is a specialist Organization aimed at assisting young 'start - up' businesses, who require early, clear, immediate and focused advice on employment issues and contracts.

Happily, here in Camden we are surrounded by many young businesses and creative entrepreneurs and as a result, have an established client base and enormous experience in this area.

We understand that during the early days of a business, when it needs the most support, that money can be an issue, which is why we offer a variety of cost effective fee packages which are competitive and terrific value for money.

It pays to ensure that you receive the best advice in this difficult (and potentially contentious) area of law.

Contact us on 0207 387 2032 or fill out our online enquire form, here.

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  2214 Hits
2214 Hits
JUL
06

London Property Market - A Real Opportunity for European Buyers

housing squareThe majority decision of the British electorate on 23 June 2016 to leave the European Union heralds a new dawn in the property market.

The uncertainty created by ‘Brexit’ has created new pricing opportunities for buyers who may otherwise have been unable to afford their first property purchase and encouraged overseas buyers, attracted by the cheaper pound, to purchase an array of properties at the higher end of the market.

Moreover, those clients who are selling their main residence and buying a new one, are now exercising greater flexibility in their pricing strategy. By accepting in some cases a lower price on their sale and successfully negotiating a larger discount on their related purchase.

The British Government as well as the Bank of England have also issued important and decisive policy announcements to embolden the country’s economy in today’s new era. Macro-economic policy changes include the Chancellor’s recent statement that he intends to lower the rate of Corporation Tax to under 15%. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has also stated that the Bank will step up its monetary measures to increase overall levels of confidence in the nation’s economy. Parts of the British press also believe that Mr Carney has already signalled his intention to lower in the near future, perhaps by this August, the benchmark rate of interest from 0.5% to 0.25%.

At Lewis Nedas Law, we as a team of property professionals are geared up for this new frontier in transactions- as we offer a Partner led group of conveyancers who can act quickly to achieve your objectives.

We also act for overseas clients from a range of countries including France, Spain, Italy and beyond- who require a more hands-on approach and greater level of advice during the course of their transactions.

To our prospective French speaking clients, we say: Nous vous invitons à considérer notre cabinet d'avocats. Nous offrons un service amical et un prix compétitif.

To our prospective Italian clients, we say: Vi invitiamo a prendere in considerazione il nostro studio legale. Offriamo un servizio amichevole e prezzi competitivi.

To our prospective Spanish clients, we say: Damos la bienvenida a considerar nuestro bufete de abogados. Ofrecemos un servicio amable y un precio competitivo.

And to one and all, we say: Welcome to Lewis Nedas, where we offer a friendly and competetively priced service on a range of property transactions.

 

If you are about to embark on a property transaction, please call Richard Greenby, Senior Associate  in our Property Dept on 0207 691 4560 for a free quote, or complete our online enquiry form here.

 

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1781 Hits
JUN
30

Another Senior Criminal Lawyer joins Lewis Nedas Law

lewis nedas new staff femaleWe are delighted that Sue Staveley has agreed to join us as a consultant solicitor.

Ms Staveley is well known within the legal community in London, having run her own highly succesful and respected practice in West London, she also sat as a Deputy District Judge for many years.

Sue also currently sits as a GMC (General Medical Council) disciplinary panel member.

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Accreditations
and Awards

legal 500 uk leading firm 2017 chambers leading firm 2017