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Targeting Online Images

The recent convictions of Mark Bridger, for the murder of April Jones, and Stuart Hazell, for the murder of Tia Sharp, have heightened concerns over a link between viewing indecent images of children online and progressing on to commit more serious criminal acts against children.

Calls for action

The concerns have led Prime Minister David Cameron to call upon internet companies to do more to address the issue effectively, while the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, will this week chair a meeting with internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and BT, to discuss the matter further.

Child protection and women’s groups have also reacted strongly. Speaking last week, Sue Berelowitz, Deputy Children's Commissioner for England, supported the call for the Government to ban websites that promote simulated rape scenarios.

She also highlighted a recent report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, looking at the effects that access and exposure to pornography have on children and young people.

Impact of pornography

The report found that a significant number of children access pornography and that it influences their attitudes towards relationships and sex. It also revealed that accessing pornography is linked to risky behaviour, such as having sex at a younger age and that there is a correlation between holding violent attitudes and accessing more violent media.

The findings are backed up by an earlier report from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), which works to tackle the sexual abuse of children.

The report, ‘A Picture of Abuse’, published in June last year, tried specifically to quantify the links between those who possess indecent images of children (IIOC) and those who commit contact sexual offences against children.

It found that, whilst academic research is divided, there is a clear link between the image offences and sexual contact offences, with one study finding a correlation of 55%.

The Internet Watch Foundation

According to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a charity which works with law enforcement agencies and online organisations to remove child sexual abuse images from the internet, one of the best ways to prevent people from seeing the images, is simply to make them unavailable.

"The UK internet industry is extremely quick and nimble at tackling what is possibly the most horrendous images and videos available on the internet but there is always more to be done,” said IWF spokeswoman Emma Lowther.”

She called on people who come across images of child sexual abuse online to contact the IWF immediately. Where the images are hosted in the UK, the IWF says it is able to remove around 78% of reported images within 2 hours.

Google’s response

Responding to mounting pressure in the run up to its meeting with the Culture Secretary this week, Google told the Telegraph that it is working on a new system that may tackle the problem. The technology will allow a new database to be created, pulling together data from different search engines and other web organisations about flagged images of child sexual abuse.

At the moment this data cannot be shared properly, and the hope is that the new system will allow the images to be blocked by every tech company, and not just some of them.

Contact Lewis Nedas’ Criminal Lawyers in London

If you have been, or believe you will be, charged with offences relating to viewing images of child sexual abuse online and require specialist legal advice, please contact our solicitors Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form here.

This blog post is intended as a news item only- no connection between Lewis Nedas and the parties concerned is intended or implied.

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Total SA’s FCPA Deferred Prosecution Agreement: What Did It Have to do with the USA? – by Siobhain Egan

In short, not a lot!

Why then were the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission able to levy some $398 million, the fourth largest fine under the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), the US equivalent to our Bribery Act 2010, and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with a French oil and gas company in relation to the payment of massive bribes to the Iranians?

It seems that Total SA were involved in paying bribes totalling $60 million to the chairman of an Iranian engineering company between 1995 and 2004, involving two intermediaries. It was alleged that the engineering company was largely owned and controlled by the Iranian government, and it concerned oil/gas drilling rights in the SIRR A and E, South Pars oil and gas fields.

The battle between Total SA and US authorities has been raging since 2010 and the only nexus between the Iranian bribery allegations and the USA was that $500,000 passed through a US bank in 1995. That is the sum total of any monies (0.8% of the bribes) that connected this situation with the Americans.

The French, who do have their own anti-bribery legislation, have decided to recommend that four senior Total SA employees should be prosecuted at some stage, but it isn't suggested anywhere that they stand to gain any of the $398 million fine.

The terms of the DPA itself are interesting not just because they concern such an old allegation, but also that they demand an independent corporate compliance monitor be appointed, and extend international FCPA co-operation to an extent which has not been seen before.

It is also interesting because US legal commentators state that this is the first FCPA DPA that is within the US DPA Sentencing Guidelines, albeit, and surprisingly, at the lower end of the guidelines. It seems that most corporate fines under DPAs to date have been about 25% less than the recommended lower range.

Total did not self-report and did not have any anti-bribery and corruption compliance systems in place at all, so it is interesting that they were able to negotiate a fine towards the lower end of the guidelines in those circumstances.

This also points to a major criticism of the US approach to DPAs; that there just does not seem to be any consistency and transparency of approach, which makes it very difficult for any corporate offender when negotiating with the authorities. This flexibility and lack of a structured approach is useful for the US authorities, and of course the US judiciary currently have no real role to play in these agreements other than rubber stamping them.

This country will take a very different view of DPAs; the Judiciary here are determined to have a structured process with a defined role for the over-seeing Judge to play. The Sentencing Council, when drafting the DPA guidelines, will ensure consistency and transparency of approach. It may be in the end that the US will learn something from this country about the correct approach to DPAs.

However this DPA fine (and the much-rumoured News Corp FCPA settlement, supposedly in the region of $850 million) must be giving the SFO some food for thought?











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SFO Director Calls for S.7 Bribery Act 2010 to be extended to Fraud and Money Laundering

Caroline Bingham of the Financial Times (05 June 2013) reports that the SFO Director, when recently addressing a city law firm, bemoaned the difficulties when attempting to prosecute a corporate.

Unlike his US counterparts, where legislation is in place to do so, here the additional problems of identifying the ‘controlling mind’ and/or ‘piercing the corporate veil’ make it well-nigh impossible to bring a successful prosecution, generally because of the complex nature of many corporate and management structures.

David Green QC believes that if S.7 Bribery Act 2010 (failure to prevent bribery, i.e. install and execute adequate anti-bribery compliance systems) could be extended to apply to fraud and money laundering (with the aid of fresh legislation), and it would dovetail nicely with the forthcoming DPAs (Deferred Prosecution Agreements) and encourage the corporates to self-report.

At present the general view of those of us who defend SFO prosecutions is that without any genuine threat of a corporate prosecution why should the corporates self-report and enter a DPA?

It will be interesting to see if and when the Director gets his way.

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Yet another Success for Keith Wood and LNL!

Keith represented a company director facing regulatory prosecutions for issues concerning VAT fraud and company record keeping. The tax issues concerned whether or not VAT was liable on the company's recorded turnover.

Leading UK experts were instructed who concluded that the ‘agent and principle’ rule had been misunderstood by HMRC, and we were able to show that the company turnover was below the requisite threshold.

As far as the company record keeping offence was concerned, Keith advised our client made various undertakings which meant that he avoided prosecution.

It is our multi-disciplinary approach and our detailed knowledge of fraud and regulatory matters which sets this firm apart.




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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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