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Two new major instructions for LNL corporate crime unit

Jeffrey Lewis has been instructed to advise a company which is the subject of a major SOCA investigation into the mobile phone industry.

Keith Wood is advising a property company facing allegations of large scale money laundering.

Click here for more information on our corporate crime unit.

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Homebuyers: dont skimp on the survey!

The Independent (4/04/2013) reports that a recent RICS survey concludes that between 25-30% of home buyers rely on the mortgage companies survey alone!

It is a false saving and likely to cost the home buyer dearly in the long run, especially if the home in question is older housing stock.

Type of Home Survey in the UK

There are three types of home survey:

  • level 1 is a condition report
  • level 2 Home buyers report
  • level 3 building survey

Contact our Conveyancing Specialists

Any queries on this issue contact our conveyancing solicitors: RICHARD McCONNELL, JANAK BAKRANIA or LAYNA THOMPSON.

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Proving a Negative with Asset Confiscation Orders: The "Hidden Asset" Problem – by Siobhain Egan

For anyone facing a confiscation order, one of the most perplexing aspects is when the Crown start to speak about "hidden assets". This is not, strictly speaking, a legal term and from a defendant's point of view represents a particularly unfair element to confiscation proceedings.

The stakes are high because a "hidden asset" can mean serving an additional sentence in default.

What is the best way to deal with this issue?

The evidential burden falls on the defendant to prove to the Court on the balance of probabilities (the lower standard of proof) that s/he does not have hidden assets, i.e. that they have disclosed all and that their financial worth is less than the criminal benefit figure determined by the Court.

In truth, the process begins when either the original restraint order (if applicable) and the confiscation order is made.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) and Asset Restraint

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) the defendant has to complete a financial statement. It is fundamental that the statement is complete, frank and accurate. Even more importantly, the defendant must be sure to insist upon instructing specialist solicitors such as ourselves to help him/her.

It's important that from the outset that the defendant details all parties who may have an interest in any asset/sum of money, so that the Crown are on notice from the outset that there are third parties likely to be affected by these proceedings.

We have been defending both restraint and confiscation proceedings for many years. A large number of our clients instruct us after conviction when represented by other solicitors, and we are often recommended to defendants by other professionals because of our expertise.

We take a very pro-active approach which has been very successful. The key to our approach is thorough immaculate preparation, as well as working closely with forensic accountants (in complex cases) and specialist barristers. We also have a proven track record; our successes in this field are detailed in our "news "and "cases" sections on our website. Our specialist lawyers are all ranked in the various legal directories e.g. Super Lawyers UK, Chambers UK, the Legal 500.

To assist with the preparation of the case, we focus upon the expenditure incurred by the defendant when running his/her home/family/business, in fact we closely scrutinise ALL aspects of his/her expenditure.

Where did all the money go?

The real question to answer is "where did all the money go" over the given period of time.

We will chase clear audit trails, and pursue witnesses and as much confirming documentation that we can find to support the defendant's assertions about his/her expenditure, including pursuing such evidence in other jurisdictions.

The Crown just have to raise in court that that assets have in their view "disappeared" or perhaps been transferred to offshore accounts or placed in trust. They would also point to unexplained cash withdrawals from accounts as evidence of hidden assets.

If assets have suddenly been sold/transferred to others at reduced prices, that too would, in the Crown's view, point to "hidden assets".

Forensic Accountants & Reconstruction of Accounts

We have, as part of our defence of these proceedings, instructed forensic accountants to essentially re-construct accounts or businesses to show the patterns of earning and spending, to great success.

The work of our highly skilled specialist lawyers has attracted much positive comment from the Judiciary and other professionals alike.

This is a highly specialised area of law, not helped by very mixed and often contradictory case law so it's imperative to instruct lawyers who genuinely know their field.

The key to the issue of "hidden assets" is... preparation, preparation, preparation!

For advice on any of these issues regarding hidden assets or in respect of our asset restraint and confiscation legal services, contact Jeffrey Lewis, Jeremy Ornstin, Layna Thompson or Keith Wood.

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Government Reviews Police Cautions

The Government has announced the launch of a review into the way in which cautions are used by the police, in the wake of concerns that they are being used too readily.

There are two types of caution available at present for adults – simple cautions and conditional cautions:

  • A simple caution is an out of court disposal given by the police to adult criminals when specified criteria are met. It is designed to be used for low-level offending.
  • A conditional caution is an out of court disposal with set conditions attached to it with which the offender must comply. If an offender fails without reasonable excuse to comply with the conditions attached to a conditional caution he or she may be prosecuted for the offence for which the conditional caution was originally given. 

The review will focus on the use of cautions for repeat offenders and for those who commit serious crimes. In particular, it will examine:

  • existing guidance and practice relating to the use of simple cautions;
  • whether there are some offence types for which the use of simple cautions is generally inappropriate – and if so, what procedures should be adopted;
  • the reasons why multiple cautions are given to some criminals;
  • the difference in the use of cautions by different police forces and whether increased scrutiny is needed to ensure they are used consistently; and
  • the impact on individuals of accepting a caution including any potential impact on future employment.

The review is due to be completed by the end of May.

Contact our Criminal Lawyers in London

For specialist legal advice and criminal defence in the UK, contact our London criminal lawyers: please contactJeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form here.

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Massive Cybercrime Network Dismantled

A recent international cybercrime investigation has resulted in the arrest of 44 members of a global credit card fraud network. According to Europol, the group's activities affected around 36,000 bank/credit card holders across sixteen European countries.

The EU is the world's largest market for payment card transactions and it is estimated that organised crime groups derive more than 1.5 billion euros a year from payment card fraud in the EU.

The group targeted recently, according to Europol, used sophisticated methods of stealing people's credit and debit card numbers and PIN codes by implanting card reading devices and malicious software on point of sale (POS) terminals in big shopping centres across Europe.

They then used counterfeit payment cards with stolen data for further illegal transactions, mainly in Argentina, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and USA.

The members of the group also set up a sophisticated criminal network for online fraud.

Last week, 44 members of the group were arrested in an international operation, coordinated by the Romanian Cybercrime Unit in Romania, in close cooperation with Europol's European Cybercrime Centre.

The operation, called 'Pandora-Storm', resulted in the dismantling of two illegal workshops for producing devices and software to manipulate the terminals. It also caused the seizure of illegal electronic equipment, financial data, cloned cards and cash during 82 house searches in Romania and the UK.

Fraud Defence Legal Advice in the UK

For fraud defence and legal advice in the UK, please contact our fraud solicitors in London: contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form here.

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