The law governing serous and organised crime is some of the most aggressively enforced in the UK. With the means for committing crime becoming every more sophisticated, UK regulators have had to adapt their strategies and in turn become equally sophisticated in catching the perpetrators of crime and subjecting them to the full force of the law.
NCA Prosecution Lawyers London
Lewis Nedas has developed a niche practice in advising and defending clients that are facing investigation and prosecution for alleged involvement in serious or organised crime in the UK. The regulatory and governmental bodies operating in this field are well equipped to subject parties to severe investigation in an attempt to uncover evidence of their involvement in illegal activities. It is vital that anyone being questioned on their involvement in such matters is represented by skilled, knowledgable lawyers who will protect their interests.
Who regulates serious and organised crime?
The duty to guard against, investigate and ultimately prosecute instances of serious or organised crime in the UK lies with the National Crime Agency (NCA). This non-ministerial body is part of a network of organisations including the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who work together and pool their resources in order to deal with instances of organised crime.
What is 'serious and organised crime'?
It is very difficult to ascribe a singular definition to 'organised crime'. The NCA, as the primary enforcer of the laws against organised crime, have outlined a number of different activities which it deems to be of a serious criminal nature:
- Cyber crime - this relates to illegal activities that are committed through use of the internet. There are different kinds of cyber crime, some of which are targeted at individual consumers while others are directed at businesses and their commercial operations. In the case of consumers, some of the major concerns of the NCA include phishing scams and key logging. Arguably the greatest concern for the NCA and businesses is their vulnerability to hacking, and the financial damage that this can cause.
- Fraud - any instance of someone or something claiming to be anything other than they are is likely to be considered an instance of fraud. This can happen in a variety of different situations including tax fraud, identity fraud and online fraud in the selling of goods.
- Money laundering – a major concern of the NCA is that those who are involved in criminal activity try to legitimise the money that they have gained by attempting to introduce it into mainstream financial channels. An additional danger here is that if they are successful in doing so, they will cause any organisation that facilitates this to violate the money laundering obligations, which will result in financial sanctions and has the potential to undermine the stability of the wider financial system.
- Intellectual property crime - the commercial marketplace is a competitive environment. Many people hope to take advantage of others investment in time and money by producing counterfeit copies of their goods. Any such instance will invariably result in a violation of intellectual property laws, and flood the market with goods that are clearly substandard and could damage a busines’s brand.
What powers does the NCA have?
The NCA was brought into existence by virtue of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. Given its status as the main organ for policing against and ultimately attempting to reduce instances of organised crime in the UK, the powers afforded to NCA officers are impressive. Under the 2013 Act, officers of the NCA hold the same powers and privileges enjoyed by a Police Constable, an HMRC officer or that of an immigration officer.
The result of this concentration of power is that the NCA and its officers, when suspicious of instances of organised crime, can enter a commercial business and seize assets and other business property it believes to have been used to commit a crime. It will also be able to, in the course of its investigation, require individuals to make themselves available for interview in order to provide some level of assistance. Moreover, the NCA could pursue orders for documentation that it believes is important to prove the commission of organised crime.
The resulting evidence found from these investigations can then be provided to prosecuting authorities to bring criminal charges. It is important to understand that prosecutions for serious and organised crime figure highly on governmental and regulatory agendas: the authorities will exploit the resources at their disposal to pursue every suspected instance of illegal activity.
Taken together, the powers of the NCA are significant and its close ties with other authorities and agencies make it a powerful regulatory body. Any business or individual that is faced with the prospect of an investigation or prosecution will need to be prepared.
It is important to keep in mind that while it is true that the NCA has many powers at its disposal, it can only make use of them according to law and within a strict framework. If you are concerned that your activities may attract the attention of the NCA unnecessarily, or have already been contacted about the prospect of an investigation, you will need experienced legal counsel to protect your interests in dealing with the regulator. Furthermore, if there is scope for an investigation into your affairs to develop into a prosecution, you should protect yourself with advice and support from lawyers who can test the strength of any case against you, and strategise on how best to protect you in criminal litigation.
Speak to specialist NCA defence lawyers
Lewis Nedas is a city law firm operating in the highly specialised area of corporate crime. Our solicitors routinely handle investigations into clients' affairs by a range of regulatory agencies including the FCA, the police and the NCA. We appreciate the strain that an NCA investigation can place on a business, not to mention the significant reputational damage that can be done. We believe in handling matters carefully in order to reduce the impact NCA's activities can have on our clients. Furthermore, while we will respect the NCA's and prosecution authorities’ mandate to guard against organised crime, we will not permit unnecessary intrusion into your affairs where there is no just cause. Our many years of experience have taught us the importance of protecting your interests as a matter of priority: we will work with you throughout the investigation, advise you throughout any interviews and represent you in court proceedings should the situation warrant it.