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Possible Cartel Fraud within the Wholesale Gas Industry?

The Guardian (13/11/2012) states that a whistle-blower has reported evidence of market rigging / market abuse within the wholesale gas market. The FSA have begun an investigation following the report from the whistle-blower who worked for ICIS Heren, the company responsible for setting benchmark prices. Another Libor-type scandal brewing, perhaps?

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Possible Libor Arrests/Charges within the Next Month

Siobhain Egan writes that both Bloomberg (12/11/2012) and the Telegraph (09/11/2012) report that the SFO (working alongside FSA and the CPS) are due to make arrests within the next month. The Telegraph, in the body of its article, refers to charges being brought, but we think that is a little presumptuous. One wonders what precipitated this decision. It is still very early days; the investigation only opened in July after the SFO were given an additional (and relatively small) budget of £3 million.

Perhaps it was the French Prosecutor’s recent decision to make arrests, or the US success when securing massive payments from Barclays and HSBC (amongst others) in this apparent international race to secure arrests in the Libor scandal. Perhaps it is the leaked HM CPSI report due to be released shortly, which details serious failings within the SFO re staff, training and results.

It seems that that former traders / rate setters with UBS, RBS, and Barclays PLC are within the sights of the SFO.

If you are concerned that you will be facing arrest or investigation, you will need skilled, experienced solicitors who are familiar with the SFO and their mind-set.

Contact Jeffrey Lewis, Siobhain Egan, Miles Herman, or Keith Wood.

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SC to Determine Whether LPP Can Be Extended to Non-Legal Advice

The Supreme Court has reserved judgement in R (on application of Prudential PLC) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax.

This is an interesting case which MAY extend Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) to accountants advising on tax issues. We say MAY, because the current approach to LPP has been to restrict and undermine it. The lower courts have historically been of the view that any extension of LPP is a matter for statute and not the courts.

LPP currently concerns communication, advice and/or opinions between a lawyer and his/her client when litigation is either pending or contemplated.

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Operation Elveden - The Latest?

A fascinating article in today's Telegraph suggests that some of the journalists arrested as part of Operation Elveden are being asked to implicate senior executives at News International with the highly remote possibility that News International could face charges re bribery allegations.

If you are facing hacking (email or phone) or bribery and corruption investigations, contact Jeffrey Lewis, Siobhain Egan or Miles Herman. We have successfully defended one of the first major email/phone hacking prosecutions concerning AIS private detective agency involving serving Metropolitan Police officers (also known as 'the Jimmy Choo bugging case'), and we have also successfully advised in a major bribery and corruption investigation.

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UK Film and TV Companies Warned of Corruption Risks Abroad

UK film and TV companies need to heed corruption and bribery risks in financing and making films abroad, fraud investigators at Ernst & Young have warned.

Ernst & Young’s Fraud Investigation & Disputes Services have warned that the next front for enforcers could be the film industry following a growing trend among studios to work in emerging markets on new productions.

There is also a general pressure on countries to raise quotas of imported films. In the US enforcers have begun to ask questions of studios about potential bribery of foreign officials showing the extent of filmmaking’s exposure to such risks.

The warning follows China’s relaxation on the number of foreign films that can be distributed in the country, while UK filmmakers looking abroad for new opportunities received a funding boost earlier this year.

Filmmaking can be exposed to corruption in a number of ways, including:

  • Gift-giving is important in certain cultures, but under some circumstances could be construed as a bribe. Filmmaking also may need access to areas or locations closed to the public which may risk so called ‘facilitation’ payments which are illegal under the Bribery Act.
  • Under the Bribery Act failure to carry out checks on third parties leaves a company open to unlimited fines if it was to have a bribery or corruption problem. Joint ventures and third parties doing business on filmmakers’ behalf should be background checked – film companies need to know who they are dealing with and what relationship they have to the government.

Mike Rudberg, partner in Ernst & Young’s Media & Entertainment Group, commented: “With recent regulatory changes, it is vital companies are aware of their potential risks. While in more regulated industries, such as oil and gas, aerospace and defence, employees have a mind-set to fight corruption, it may not yet be ingrained in the entertainment industry, particularly among local operations.”

Contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan for advice on these issues.

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