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Lewis Nedas Law are London-based solicitors. Frequently rated in both Chambers UK and The Legal 500, we can help you or your business today. Tel: 020 7387 2032.

A Defence Lawyer’s Perspective on Cyber Crime – by Miles Herman

It has long been the case that businesses, particularly within the banking sector, and the public at large have been under the attack from cyber criminals. Recent cases have shown the level of sophistication employed by those intent on profiting through criminal activity over the internet and online services have resulted in the Government rethinking its strategy to combat criminal activity of this nature.

As recently as November of last year, the Prime Minister stated that cyber security is a top priority for this government and within the global approach to tackling this ever increasing problem, the Government is committed to expanding the use of ‘cyber specialists’ to help police tackle cyber crime and create a Cyber Crime Unit within the National Crime Agency by 2013.

Many of those involved in the Criminal Justice System would have read with interest the comments by Richard Clarke, the Home Office Security and Counter-Terrorism Department Director, who has warned that cyber crime is now as great a threat as terrorism to the UK’s national security.

But what are the levels of success in tackling cyber criminal organizations thus far? Well, the answer to this will not be known for some time. There can be little doubt that to date the individuals operating towards the high end of cyber criminal activity have been on top. So far, there have been very few prosecutions concerning the activities of individuals that police believe are instrumental in how sustained criminal attacks are taking place online and over the internet.

One such prosecution was ‘Operation Crossbill’, which resulted in a number of defendants pleading guilty and receiving sentences ranging from two to five years. It is apparent from the nature of this investigation in which Lewis Nedas Law received instructions from two defendants (one of whom was acquitted following trial and was the only defendant to avoid custody), that prosecutions of this nature will become more frequent, more focused and will require a particular level of specialised knowledge in affording those accused of criminal activity expert representation.

Arising from this prosecution, one of the first of its type, a team of officers were tasked with investigating a group of individuals who were concerned with the control of a complex network of domains, command and control servers and associated malicious programmes directed at the promotion of fraud through the internet.

The investigation involved a complex picture of international computer-based criminality and it was claimed during the case that the individuals concerned were close to those capable of writing malicious codes.

It was apparent throughout my representation of two defendants in this matter that police believed conduct of this nature is now becoming the preferred method for international organized criminal networks. It is anticipated that cyber criminal activity of this and of a similar nature will readily be preferred by those deterred by the high risks that criminal involvement such as the importation of drugs or people trafficking pose.

The sentences handed down in this case (subject to appeal) and, it is anticipated, in future cases, tend to demonstrate that the Court propose to crack down on this type of activity and therefore those who are engaged or suspected of being engaged in criminal conduct of this nature require specialist advice from an early stage.

Lewis Nedas Law is an organization that can help those being investigated and/or charged with any criminal offences relating to the internet and online services. We have specialist knowledge of how these cases are prosecuted and are able to give concise, expert, and direct advice on all matters relating to cases of this nature.

Given the high-level stakes that are involved in cases being prosecuted to date and certainly, from now on, those under suspicion or facing charges, cannot afford to receive anything other than specialist advice.

The level of investigation and detection will only increase significantly over the coming months and years and Lewis Nedas Law, with specialist computer-based fraud experts and expert witnesses on hand to provide specialist reports and guidance, can assist any of those facing an enquiry by the police, any other investigative agency and/or prosecution through the courts.

Our organization is able to provide the required assistance from investigations until trial in addition to a strong and able team of solicitors. We employ specialist counsel on cases of this nature. Jeremy Ornstin, Senior Advocate of this practice was instructed in Operation Crossbill and was instrumental in the settling of a favourable basis plea for one of the defendants.

Please contact Miles Herman, Jeffrey Lewis.

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Can Cash Still Be King? – by Siobhain Egan

Individuals and businesses alike are feeling the aftershocks of recent banking and money laundering scandals. Their banks are suddenly becoming hyper-vigilant and are choosing to close their accounts with limited notice periods because they believe that their customers are now operating at unacceptable risk levels.

Mr and Mrs Shah (Shah v HSBC) found, to their enormous financial cost, the consequences of having a SAR made against them by their bank.

New money laundering regulations are due to be enforced; the National Crime Agency has pledged to make money laundering offences their priority when they launch in 2013. Increasingly, aggressive regulators and prosecuting authorities are working together with the major financial institutions.

Suppose you found yourself in the position of making a SAR concerning a client or customer. Would you also be open to civil action for any loss that they sustained because of your decision to report them?

So, how do you protect yourself and your business?

You will need to be fully compliant with ALL financial crime regulation including fraud, market abuse, tax offences, bribery and corruption. It is imperative that you have specific systems and procedures in place that are tailored to your business; systems which are detailed, transparent and show a clear audit trial supporting your decision to make a SAR (or not), for example.

It certainly will not be enough to download an “off the peg” AML compliance programme or to seek advice from your company lawyer or audit accountant.

It is not sufficient to assure yourself that you recognise the following abbreviations: PEP, SAR, AML, MLRO or KYC.

If you deal with other jurisdictions, are you aware of their individual money laundering regulations?

You will need independent advice and help from specialist solicitors and forensic accountants who are up to date with all policy changes in this area, who can assist you if you suspect a financial crime has been committed and who is au fait with the rapid changes in fraudulent/criminal behaviour.

We have been defending serious financial crime allegations for over thirty years and, working alongside the very best forensic accountants, can advise on all the necessary regulatory systems to protect you and your business: compliance advice from a firm that has thirty years experience of dealing with regulators and prosecutors alike.

As for cash... it has relinquished its throne some time ago!

If you require any advice please contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan.

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Bribery Act 2010 – by Siobhain Egan

As part of the coalition government’s renewed attempts to clamp down on business corruption, this act came into force in July 2011. Its stringent conditions apply to those individuals and companies trading; both foreign and UK companies, as long as the foreign companies operate in this country.

The act demands that individuals and companies have in place adequate anti-corruption procedures. The act is not particularly well-drafted and therefore there are many grey areas which are open to interpretation.

The SFO are advocating the need for self-reporting and the government is currently considering the use of deferred prosecution agreements in this context.

The penalties for failing to install adequate anti-corruption procedures are high. The FSA have recently and repeatedly levied huge fines against companies who have failed to do this.

Lewis Nedas Law have a team of serious fraud experts headed by Jeffrey Lewis, who can assist with advice regarding these anti-corruption systems and other relevant issues. We have a thirty-year proven track record of success in dealing with tax, VAT investigations and fraud, money laundering, and insider dealing.

We work with highly regarded independent forensic accountants and barristers.

We can advise where you suspect fraud or corruption within your company and how to approach the authorities. We pride ourselves upon our ‘City standards of practice’ without the City rates!

Contact Jeffrey Lewis.

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New Offshore Account Offensive by HMRC – by Siobhain Egan

HM Revenue & Customs have recently announced that they have arrested and interviewed eight individuals under caution in relation to offshore accounts. This is as a result of the formation of an elite specialist investigative sub-directorate of HMRC who will aggressively pursue the so-called ‘abuse’ of offshore accounts.

Thanks to recent international cooperation from foreign counterparts, the Revenue have managed to identify some 500,000 individuals who hold such offshore accounts. They have vowed to prosecute at least nine hundred people per year for tax fraud. Each of these individuals will receive a letter from HMRC demanding information about the offshore account. Note that they are not specifically pursuing the ‘fabulously wealthy’ who have such accounts, it is anyone who holds an account.

The Revenue have two approaches which they can take: firstly a criminal prosecution which can lead to further allegations relating to money laundering, serious fraud, Proceeds of Crime Act offences, convictions and asset confiscation; or alternatively the civil procedure which is known as Code of Practice 9.

The Revenue really do mean business this time. To face either a criminal prosecution or a civil investigation is time consuming, frightening, and can be very expensive in the long-term. It is important that if either you or your client receives a letter from HMRC you immediately instruct both specialist criminal defence solicitors and specialist tax accountants who are used to dealing with the new full-on and aggressive stance being taken by the Revenue. This is turn can save time, stress, criminal proceedings, civil recovery or criminal asset recovery. It can save money, including penalties and interest.

Many of you will have accounts in the family which have been there for generations and have remained untouched for years. This will not exclude you from the Revenue’s investigations.

At Lewis Nedas Law we have a department which is dedicated to the defence of Inland Revenue investigations and prosecutions. We offer a City standard of service at reasonable and realistic pricing levels. We work with leading tax/criminal defence QCs and tax accountants at different pricing levels. If you require any advice please contact Jeffrey Lewis.

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