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Possibly the Largest Ever Money Laundering Prosecution to Date

News broke on 27/28 May 2013 of a joint longstanding investigation and prosecution by the US Department of Justice and the Costa Rican authorities into Liberty Reserve, the online currency and payment network. This operation resulted in seven arrests in Costa Rica, New York and Spain.

The Americans state that Liberty Reserve is allegedly the biggest money laundering scheme in the world; they further allege that 55 million financial transactions were facilitated by the company, laundering some $6 billion.

It will be argued by prosecutors that Liberty Reserve provided the largest underlying financial infrastructure for cybercriminals all over the world. It apparently also forms part of an earlier prosecution this year which led to the indictment of eight US citizens accused of stealing $45 million from bank machines in twenty-seven countries.

Liberty Reserve only demanded of a client the barest of information: name, address and email address. It did not execute any due diligence or KYC of their clients at all. The clients would rely upon third parties known as ‘exchangers’ where a third party would take the physical cash for a fee and convert it into Liberty Reserve. These exchangers are largely unlicensed/unregulated money transmitting businesses, which are, according to the Americans, based largely in Malaysia, Russia, Vietnam, and Nigeria.

Barclays are fully co-operating with the authorities, as it seems that Liberty Reserve held an account with them in Spain, which shows how easy it is for even the largest of banks to be affected. Forty-five accounts used by Liberty Reserve have been seized by the authorities as well as assets of thirty-five other sites that allegedly fed funds to Liberty Reserve.

The next question is: where are those involved in cybercrime going to move their money? One major competitor to Liberty Reserve is under constant surveillance by the Russian FSB, and international prosecuting authorities are closely watching twelve other similar setups.

If you are the victim of money laundering or a finance or legal professional investigated either for money laundering regulatory breaches or have been charged with such an offence, you will need top money laundering specialist solicitors.

Our leading criminal lawyers can advise you upon every aspect of money laundering, whatever your perspective.

Contact Jeffrey Lewis, Siobhain Egan, Miles Herman, Keith Wood, or complete our online enquiry form.









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72% of Drivers Admit to Multi-Tasking Behind the Wheel

There has been some interesting research by, the comparison site, released in June 2013, and by Santander earlier this year (April 2013), focusing upon driver behaviour and distractions.

The research by concludes the following:

  • 69% of drivers eat whilst driving
  • 34% of drivers smoke whilst driving
  • 31% of drivers speak and hold a mobile phone whilst driving
  • 30% of drivers read or text a message whilst driving
  • 23% of drivers use a smartphone while driving

Drivers in the age group 25 to 34 are most likely to be distracted while driving; 48% of this age group had either read or sent a text and 22% had either written or checked email when driving.

Santander’s research concluded that 25% of drivers sent a text or fiddled with the car stereo while driving, behaviour which accounted for near misses for 25% female drivers and 33%+ of male drivers.

Additionally, 11% of men and 15% of women admitted to crashing a vehicle because of a distraction. This means that large sections of the driving population are at risk of causing injury to themselves and others, and are at an even greater risk of facing criminal prosecution for careless or dangerous driving, or death by careless or dangerous driving.

The penalties can range from points on your licence and substantial fines to disqualification from driving and even imprisonment.

Next month police will be able to impose ‘on the spot fines’ for lesser offences of careless driving.

If you are facing such an allegation, whether by charge or summons, or need to save your licence, you will need top motoring lawyers to help you through the whole process.

Leading traffic offence lawyers such as us provide a first class, effective, supportive service for reasonable fees. We have an excellent record when defending driving offences over the last thirty years.

Contact Jeffrey Lewis or complete our online enquiry form.

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SFO Pleads Poverty in Tchenguiz Case

The Financial Times (05 June 2013) reports that the SFO submitted to Mr Justice Eder that the Court should consider the cost to the taxpayer, as it continues to defend High Court proceedings brought by Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz, as a result of the agency’s ill-fated investigation into the collapse of Kaupthing Bank.

Mr Justice Eder apparently replied, “You are not suggesting that somehow the government should be treated differently from any other party? …it is something which it seems to me astonishing that counsel managed to sign.”

The Tchenguiz brothers have launched the largest claim against the SFO for damages in the region of £300 million.

It is difficult not to feel some sympathy for the UK taxpayer, and it is well known that the SFO’s budget has been reduced to £38.75 million in 2012.

However, that is not the full story. The Agency has taken on a large number of high profile investigations and they are guaranteed additional ring fenced funding from the Treasury if any investigation is going to cost more than £1.5 million. They have also been given £3.5 million to investigate the Libor scandal with promises of more money, should they need it.

The SFO has also managed to increase their coffers by an additional £6.6 million in 2011/12, as a result of various civil settlements and Civil Recovery Orders.

David Green QC, the SFO Director, must be looking wistfully across the Atlantic at his US counterparts and the incredible sums which they have recently levied as financial penalties for FCPA offences. The FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) is the US equivalent of the UK Bribery Act 2010.

In 2010 the Department of Justice collected $870 million and the SEC an additional $148 million, although that dropped in 2011 to a mere $355 million, because of their aggressive attitude and use of Deferred Prosecution Agreements.

The SFO is responsible for bribery and corruption enforcement, and can look forward to using Deferred Prosecution Agreements in 2014 to raise some real money.

If you are facing an investigation by the SFO, contact specialist lawyers like us and speak to Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan.










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2001 Hits

Jeffrey Lewis Interviewed on Russian TV

On 7 June 2013 Jeffrey Lewis was interviewed for the Russian TV station 'TV Tsentr' (TVC) by correspondent Evgeny Ksenzenko on 'gagging orders' in the UK. This will reach an audience of 100 million people in Russia, including our large, long-established client base resident in both Russia and the UK.

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1534 Hits

FCA Act on UCIS and ‘Esoteric Investments’

After a consultation last year and lengthy consequential negotiations, the FCA have decided that Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes (UCIS) will only be open to sophisticated investors for retail investment and those who fulfil strict criteria. The new regulations will take effect in January 2014, but do not affect Venture Capital Trusts, Real Estate Investment Trusts, or Enterprise Investment Schemes.

The FCA are concerned that there have been massive problems with investments in these UCIS, leaving many unwary investors facing colossal losses of all their savings and investments in some cases.

The clampdown by the FCA is because of the increased number of both criminal and regulatory investigations of UCIS, e.g. land bank, wine, classic cars, and carbon credit.

Additionally, there has been a marked increase in complaints to the Financial Services Ombudsman by investors about these schemes and the IFAs who have recommended them.

If you are affected by any of these investigations or complaints, contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan who can advise you.





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1670 Hits

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