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Another One Bites the Dust: Insurance Broker Found Guilty of Fraud

fraudThe law on fraud is becoming something of a feature in the media. It was recently reported that an Insurance broker, Mr Jay Solder, narrowly avoided a prison sentence after being convicted of committing insurance fraud. This case was interesting to note, given that at Lewis Nedas we regularly advise clients facing allegations of fraud. Here, we give an overview of the case, and the rules that were breached.

What was being investigated?

Mr Solder is reported to have been an insurance broker in the City. He had reported to his insurers that his home had been raidefraud sold by burglars twice in a four month period, making off with a number of Rolex and Omega watches, a MacBook Pro computer and a Mulberry Handbag. He had also reported to his insurers that he had lost his Burberry coat while he had been travelling, within which were a number of highly valuable items, including: a Louis Vuitton wallet, a Sony digital camera and an iPad Mini.

The insurers in question, having been alerted by Mr Solder to what he claimed to be burglaries and instances where he lost his property, did make payment to him under the respective policies. Difficulties arose for Mr Solder when City of London investigators began to question the value of the insurance claims.

What happened following on from the insurance claims?

Investigators decided to conduct an extensive investigation into Mr Solder, including inspecting his home. It was during this investigation that a number of irregularities were discovered:

  • The value of the goods Mr Solder had claimed were stolen had been vastly inflated, following investigators determining that the credit card statements used were in fact fake; and
  • The Rolex watch and camera that Mr Solder had claimed under the Insurance policy were later found in his wardrobe, along with £6,000 in cash.

The total value for which Mr Solder had claimed under insurance is reported to have been £43,000. but the authorities could find no evidence that these claims were in fact genuine. As a result of the findings by investigators, Mr Solder was dismissed from his position as an insurance broker and became the subject of a criminal investigation for fraud.

Having been found guilty for committing fraud, he was sentenced to a 21-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 160 hours of community service. Mr Solder had committed to the court that he would reimburse the money that he had taken from his insurers within two weeks of his being convicted.

Where are the rules governing fraud?

Fraud as an offence can be very difficult to prove. In the case of Mr Solder, in order to find evidence of guilt, investigators had to conduct an extensive investigation of his home and subject credit card statements to detailed investigation.

The offence of Fraud is detailed in the Fraud Act 2006. As a piece of legislation it is quite sophisticated, describing fraud in exacting detail. Fraud is deemed to be:

  1. The making of a false representation;
  2. By failing to disclose information if you are under a duty to do so; or
  3. By abusing the position which you are expected to safeguard.

This definition is purposefully designed to be wide ranging in order to allow authorities to detect, investigate and prosecute fraud. In previous years, when this legislation was not in force, fraud was a particularly difficult crime to prove.

In the case of Mr Solder, the difficulty for him would be that his actions appeared to fall clearly within the definition of fraud, at least in that he claimed insurance for items which had (i) never been lost and (ii) were not as valuable as he had originally claimed.

Who investigates instances of suspected fraud?

Depending on who is suspected of having committed fraud, a number of regulatory bodies can instigate an investigation. However, when dealing specifically with instances of suspected fraud committed by individuals, as was the case with Mr Solder, the police are the most relevant body. It is also possible for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to instigate an investigation if it so chooses.

The power of the police to investigate suspected instances of fraud is heavily regulated by statute under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). The Act does permit police, in attempting to prove the commission of fraud, to pursue a variety of avenues including:

  • The detention and questioning of individuals suspected of having committed fraud;
  • The investigation of an individual’s affairs, including inspection of their home; and
  • In certain instances, the police are also empowered to stop and search an individual for evidence of having committed fraud.

In respects of Mr Solder, the police became suspicious of his activities, and exercised their powers under PACE to investigate his property for evidence of fraud.

What is the penalty for having committed fraud?

In the case of individuals where they become the subject of criminal proceedings under the Theft Act 2006, the penalty for commission of the fraud is quite severe. The court may decide either to issue a sentence of a period of imprisonment to a maximum of ten years, or issue an unlimited fine.

Mr Solder only narrowly escaped a period of imprisonment, on account of his committing to repay the funds that he owes.

Contact Lewis Nedas Law Expert Solicitors

At Lewis Nedas, we take a particularly distinctive approach to defending clients alleged to have committed fraud. Authorities treat the offence of fraud very seriously, and will use all suitable resources to determine whether or not there is evidence of guilt. Our many years of experience in dealing with regulators and prosecuting authorities afford us a great deal of insight into how prosecutors operate. We will handle all of your dealings with investigators: accompany you to any interviews with regulators, and handle any and all correspondence that is required. We will also represent you in court if the circumstances require it. Rest assured that the team at Lewis Nedas are true experts in defending actions concerning all aspects financial crime, and that we are here to help you. Contact us here.

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LNL Wins ACQ Law Award for Criminal Defence Law Firm of the Year

ACQ law awardsWe are delighted to announce that the firm has won yet another award: the ACQ Law award for Criminal Defence Law Firm of the Year!

The ACQ LAW Awards celebrate achievement, innovation, and brilliance through a legitimately independent nomination process where the award winners are chosen by the industry itself. Those firms and individuals that have had the greatest impact on the industry during 2014 are duly honoured. The awards are designed not only to reflect actual performance in certain areas of expertise, but also celebrates professionalism, experience, value for money, and responsiveness; in other words, overall quality of service.

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EU Calls for Stricter Border Inspections in Gibraltar to Reduce Organised Crime

money launderingInspectors from the EU have have asked Spanish and UK authorities to impose stricter rules to protect from tobacco smuggling, money laundering and organised crime over the Gibraltar border. The inspectors cited strong evidence that illegal activity including serious organised crime is increasing.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), carried out the investigation and concluded that “judicial proceedings” should be launched on both sides of the border in an attempt to tackle the increase in crime. A spokesman from OLAF said:

“The investigation has raised a number of concerns regarding the link between a significant increase in the size of the Gibraltar market for cigarettes over the past four years and the subsequent increase of cigarette smuggling across the frontier and corresponding increase in size of the illicit market in southern Spain. The concerns include indications of the involvement of organised crime.”

The office made the recommendations after visits by EU inspectors to the Gibraltar border following complaints that border checks by Spanish authorities caused queues of up to eight hours, for those wishing to cross.

The Spanish authorities claim that the border checks were necessary to control tobacco smuggling into Spain, but Britain and Gibraltar complained that they were “politically motivated and disproportionate” and came in retaliation for Gibraltar sinking an artificial reef in its territorial waters disputed by Spain.

In fact, the OLAF report makes recommendations applicable to authorities on both sides of the border. The OLAF spokesman said:

“The OLAF final case report and recommendations to initiate judicial proceedings related to the findings of the report have been sent to the Spanish General State Prosecutor and to the Gibraltar Attorney General via the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels. As OLAF can carry out only administrative investigations, it is for those authorities to decide what further actions may be necessary.”

Last week in a separate report, the EU Commission stated that the checks carried out by Spain at the border were “disproportionate”.

Contact Lewis Nedas Specialist Solicitors

If you are affected by an investigation of money laundering, organised crime, or any other issues highlighted by this article, please contact our experienced solicitors by calling 020 3432 6608 or completing our online enquiry form.

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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More Safeguards in Criminal Proceedings? - by Siobhain Egan

In its latest move to ensure that all EU citizens receive a fair trial, wherever they are in the EU, the European Commission has presented a package of proposals to further strengthen procedural safeguards for citizens in criminal proceedings.

These most recent proposals aim to guarantee respect for the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial; to make sure that children have special safeguards when facing criminal proceedings; guarantee access of suspects and accused to provisional legal aid at the early stages of proceedings and especially for people subject to a European Arrest Warrant.

These proposals are another milestone down the road of procedural rights and aim to complement a set of three other EU laws agreed since 2010: on the right to translation and interpretation, the right to information, and the right to access a lawyer. The hope is that the new proposals will help to ensure the smooth operation of justice in the EU.

The new proposals include:

  • A Directive aimed at strengthening the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial in criminal proceedings: this will guarantee that (1) guilt cannot be inferred by any official decisions or statements before a final conviction; (2) the burden of proof is placed on the prosecution and any doubt benefits the suspect or accused person; (3) the right to remain silent is guaranteed and not used against suspects to secure conviction; and (4) the accused has the right to be present at the trial.
  • A Directive on special safeguards for children suspected or accused of a crime: It is intended that it will make sure that children, who are vulnerable because of their age, have mandatory access to a lawyer at all stages. This means that children would be unable to waive their right to be assisted by a lawyer.
  • A Directive on the right to provisional legal aid for citizens suspected or accused of a crime and for those subject to a European Arrest Warrant
  • A recommendation on procedural safeguards for vulnerable people suspected or accused in criminal proceedings: ensuring that vulnerable people (for example those suffering from physical or mental disabilities) are detected and recognised, and that their special needs are taken into account in criminal proceedings. The recommendation proposes that vulnerable suspects benefit from special safeguards such as mandatory access to a lawyer, assistance by an appropriate third person and medical assistance.
  • A recommendation on the right to legal aid for suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings: providing common factors to be taken into account in the assessment of whether one has a right to legal aid, and aimed at ensuring the quality and effectiveness of legal aid services and administration.

Contact Lewis Nedas’ Criminal Lawyers in London

If you have been charged or fear you may be charged with a criminal offence in another EU country 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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EU Adopts Directive on the Right of Access to a Lawyer

Earlier this month the EU Council of Ministers formally adopted a Directive on an accused’s right to have access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings. Member States will have until October 2016 to enact the Directive into their national laws.

Once in force, the new law will apply to an estimated eight million criminal proceedings every year across the 28 EU Member States.

Roadmap of rights

The Directive has been in the pipeline for a long time. It forms part of the measures included in a November 2009 resolution of the Council of Europe, which set out a roadmap “for strengthening procedural rights of suspected or accused persons in criminal proceedings”.

The roadmap was thought necessary because of differences in which suspects and accused people are dealt with around the EU and concerns that some of these differences - in the provision of information about the charges involved, for example – could make the criminal proceedings unfair.  This in turn, could fall foul of the right to a fair trial and the right to a defence, set out in both the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Progress so far

The new Directive is the third measure to be agreed under the roadmap.

The first, relating to translation and interpretation rights in criminal proceedings, was approved in October 2010. It guaranteed the right of suspects to obtain interpretation throughout criminal proceedings, including when receiving legal advice, in their own language in all courts in the EU. EU Member States had until October this year to put the measure into their national laws.

The second was enacted in June 2012. This law related to the defendants’ right to information during criminal proceedings, and ensures that anyone arrested or subject to a European Arrest Warrant in any EU Member State is given a Letter of Rights listing their basic rights during the proceedings.

The Member States have until June 2014 to introduce these new rules into their national legal systems.

Right of access to a lawyer

The Directive approved in early October strengthens the fundamental rights of suspects even more. It focuses on the right to access a lawyer, and the right to communicate with third parties while you are in detention.

In particular it will ensure that:

  • suspects and accused persons are given access to a lawyer from the first stage of police questioning and throughout criminal proceedings;
  • suspects and accused persons  are permitted adequate, confidential meetings with their lawyer in order to effectively exercise their defence rights;
  • the lawyer is allowed to play an active role during questioning;
  • where a suspect is arrested, somebody such as a family member is made aware of that arrest and that there is an opportunity for the suspect to communicate with their family;
  • suspects abroad are allowed to be in contact with their country's consulate and receive visits; and
  • people subject to a European Arrest Warrant are given the possibility of legal advice in both the country where the arrest is carried out and the one where it was issued.

Victory for justice

"This law is a victory for justice and a victory for citizens' rights in the European Union," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU's Justice Commissioner. “The ball is now in the court of Member States not to lose time but implement this law in their national systems sooner rather than later, for the benefit of our citizens."

The Directive will come into force as soon as it is published in the EU's Official Journal – something which should happen within weeks. Member States will then have three years to implement it into national law.

Contact Lewis Nedas’ Criminal Lawyers in London

For specialist legal advice please contact our solicitors Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form to the right of this page.

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