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New Instructions for LNL Fraud & Criminal Defence Lawyers

suit-in-handcuffsSiobhain Egan is instructed in three new matters:

  • A senior City professional facing high profile FCA / criminal proceedings.
  • A £multimillion VAT investigation.
  • A London-wide money transfer / Bureau de Change business facing investigation by the Metropolitan Police for money laundering. She is also advising on ICO and AML issues that have arisen.

Jeffrey Lewis is instructed in a large-scale insurance fraud allegation.

Keith Wood is advising and representing in two HMRC company tax investigations.

Tony Meisels has been instructed to represent a professional man facing historic abuse allegations.

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LNL Shortlisted for Finance Monthly Global Awards 2014

We are delighted to find that we have been shortlisted in the category of Serious Fraud Law Firm of the Year 2014 for Finance Monthly's Global Awards 2014.

We will find out if we have won in February 2014.

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1628 Hits

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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2072 Hits

The Bell Tolls for the SFO – by Siobhain Egan

This Thursday's Public Accounts Committee hearing should be an interesting one for all serious fraud defence lawyers. The SFO's former Director, Richard Alderman, and the Current Director David Green QC are likely to be "on the rack" and will face some tough questioning about a range of issues, not least the seemingly generous and the allegedly "unauthorised" severance payments to senior members of staff. Though I doubt that I am alone when I express some cynicism that these payments were as "unauthorised", as we have been led to believe.

The history of the SFO has been a sorry one; it began with so much promise. Those of us who have been defending SFO cases for some time will remember how the legal profession regarded a position at the SFO as a prestigious one. Things seemed to go wrong when they failed to recruit senior experienced criminal lawyers but rather preferred to attract corporate/commercial lawyers from the City, often on secondment. Most of the SFO directors, until the appointment of David Green QC, also hailed from City commercial backgrounds which meant that the SFO leadership knew very little of the cut and thrust of criminal law and how to deal with good, aggressive, successful defence lawyers (a breed apart).

It is this leadership weakness which is responsible for the problems that the SFO now face. I have heard many reports from those who have worked there of poor management, poor leadership, poor communication... there seemed to be very little team work. Various specialists such as the lawyers, accountants and financial investigators refused to speak to one another. Much of the decision making was "risk averse".

As a result there was a constant stream of talented experienced staff defecting from the SFO, which has to have contributed to the string of high profile prosecuting failures, not least the appalling treatment which the Tchenguiz brothers suffered.

The Tchenguiz brothers have comfortably and confidently launched a claim for damages in excess of £300 million, reportedly. This means that, it is likely that the failures of the SFO will be exposed, again, in a high profile trial, albeit a civil one.

Richard Alderman looked to our American cousins for a possible solution to the SFO's dismal prosecution record and he found that the US authorities have been experiencing great success with Deferred Prosecution Agreements. This meant that those deemed to be Corporate crime offenders could avoid an expensive criminal prosecution as long as they self reported, paid eye watering sums and promised to behave properly in the future after installing state of the art compliance systems. Mr Alderman was very keen on this, and we now find that DPAs are to be enshrined soon in statute (s32 sch 16) Crime and Courts bill, and will be used when the SFO, primarily, investigates corporate offending, including bribery/corruption, money laundering and fraud.

It is suggested that a large portion of any fines paid under DPAs will be used to support the SFO's work.

David Green QC, when appointed, decided to take a slightly different approach, stating in last Autumn that despite DPAs coming into force, criminal prosecutions for this type of offending were not off the table. He remained silent on the issue of self reporting.  Private Eye in January 2013, stated that they believed that there were 20 bribery investigations on the desks of the SFO, none of which have been deemed suitable for prosecution. It is suspected that these will be dealt with using DPAs.

The problem which the SFO will have is that they are no longer perceived as a real force amongst seasoned defence practitioners because essentially that their budget has been slashed to £33 million in 2013 and again in 2014 their budget will be further reduced to £29 million. These sums sound huge, but in reality go nowhere when dealing with allegations of offending by multinational companies across numerous jurisdictions.

So many of the large corporates will be asking themselves why bother self reporting if there is little to fear from a crippled prosecuting agency without the money to prosecute.

Adding further insult to injury, there have been various inquiries into whistle blowing complaints made by SFO staff, namely a Cabinet Office inquiry which did not find any wrong doing and a more recent inquiry by Treasury Solicitors (TSOL). The latter inquiry again focused on whistle blowing evidence, according to reports in the Financial Times (03/03/2013) alleging that the SFO's digital forensic unit was not fit for purpose, that the SFO management were aware of this and that information relating to the quality of this evidence should have been disclosed to the defence. It is suggested that this may open the door for appeals against conviction for the relatively few that have been convicted by the SFO or who pleaded guilty. It will certainly have an impact on any confiscation orders made in those cases. According to Caroline Binham's article in today's Financial Times, it is unlikely that the results of that internal inquiry will be published. I would strongly suggest that the defence profession will be clamouring to see that report in order to ascertain if it will affect their client’s case, and that it will probably see the light of day, eventually.

What lies ahead for the SFO? Very likely it will be absorbed into either the new National Crime Agency or the CPS, though I do not see many largescale corporate crime prosecutions in the future. More likely, these agencies will follow the DPA route should they find any corporates willing to engage with them.

For more information on SFO prosecutions & investigations contact our serious fraud solicitors in London now - click here.


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1831 Hits

Lewis Nedas Law Instructed in FSA £Multimillion, Multi-Jurisdictional Property Fraud Investigation

Lewis Nedas Law have been instructed to act in a £multimillion, multi-jurisdictional property fraud allegation being investigated by FSA.

Jeffrey Lewis and Siobhain Egan are dealing with the case.

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  1736 Hits
1736 Hits

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