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Conspiracy to Defraud Defence and Conspiracy to commit Fraud
If you or business are under investigation, have been arrested, invited for a voluntary interview, charged or face proceedings for any allegations relating to fraud, our specialist team at JMW can provide expert advice, assistance and representation.
We have been and are involved in some of the biggest business crime investigation and prosecutions, and are ranked as a top tier fraud firm by the Legal 500, as well as Chambers and Partners.
Cases of this type can be highly complex and can involve many different defendants. We have acted for individuals and businesses throughout the UK and have the skill and know-how to ensure you are best protected against any prosecution brought for these types of offences.
You should contact JMW immediately if you:
- Have received a notice that you are under investigation
- Have received a restraint, production or freezing order
- Have been the subject of a dawn raid
- Have been invited to an interview under caution
- Face a criminal prosecution
Contact our specialist fraud solicitors today to discuss your situation in more detail - we offer a free initial consultation for all cases. Call us on 0800 652 5559 or complete our online enquiry form to request a call back.
Types of Conspiracy to Defraud and Conspiracy to Commit Fraud
A ‘conspiracy to defraud’ is a common-law offence. It has no precise definition in statute (a piece of law created by Parliament) but can be used to prosecute cases relating to a whole array of different facts.
To understand what is meant by ‘conspiracy to defraud’, one must consider the case law (i.e. previously determined cases) where the judiciary has defined what it understood Parliament’s intentions to be.
The offence has been defined in case law as:
- Economic loss: an agreement by two or more [persons] to deprive a person of something which is theirs, would be theirs or they are entitled to, [or] an agreement by two or more by dishonesty to injury some proprietary rights of their suffices to constitute the offence
- Non-economic loss: an agreement to deceive a person into acting contrary to the duty they owe to their clients or employers
A ‘conspiracy to commit fraud’ has been defined in statute in the Criminal Law Act 1997 and can be broken down into many parts. It can be summarised as an agreement between people to commit an offence or offences, and whether that actual offence or offences is carried out is irrelevant.
To agree to commit fraud, this can be alleged by the prosecution in a number of different ways and the type of offences are covered under the Fraud Act 2006. This piece of legislation came into force on 15th January 2007 and not only helped fill a number of gaps but also created additional offences. These offences are known as substantive offences.
The three main offences it created were:
- Fraud by false representation
- Fraud by failing to disclose information
- Fraud by abuse of position
The Fraud Act 2006 also assisted in creating offences for those who may be found in possession of articles for the use in fraud(s) or making/supplying articles for the same use.
In addition, it helped to strengthen historic legislation in the tackling of fraudulent trading offences. The Fraud Act 2006 still applies in respect of sole traders, companies and corporate bodies that are governed by the Companies Act 2006, in particular, section 993 - Offence of Fraudulent Trading.
What is the sentence for conspiracy to defraud?
Whether you are charged with conspiracy to defraud or conspiracy to commit fraud, your case will be heard at a Crown Court. The maximum sentence that can be given for conspiracy to defraud, fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information or fraud by abuse of position is 10 years imprisonment.
For information on the sentencing of individuals and corporate bodies in relation to offences of fraud, bribery and money laundering, take a look at this article.
Which offence should be used?
There are certain occasions where an offence of ‘conspiracy to defraud’ can only be prosecuted. This includes offences where, for example, land or other property (e.g. intellectual property or confidential material) is dishonestly obtained but cannot be stolen or the person accused cannot be shown to have sufficient knowledge of the substantive offence.
To assist prosecutors, the Attorney General has provided guidance outlining the issues protecting authorities should consider before proceeding with a charge of conspiracy to defraud. Notwithstanding the above, where an offence can be charged in line with statute or a statutory conspiracy that should be the preferred evidence. However, consideration must also be given inter alia to the overall seriousness of the offence, how the alleged offending took place and whether it is possible to prosecute as a statutory conspiracy.
The body that prosecutes the case (for example, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) or Trading Standards) will decide on what charges should be laid at court. It is important, however, that you have in place a solicitor who can assist and advise at each stage of the proceedings as legal arguments may arise that could result in the proceedings being withdrawn or dismissed.
The problem with conspiracy to defraud is the uncertainty of what the prosecution will allege as criminal and furthermore, due to its far-reaching definition, may catch scenarios and or behaviours that would not have otherwise been prosecuted.
Talk to Us
For more information about how our solicitors can help to construct a defence against allegations of conspiracy to defraud, contact us today by calling 0800 652 5559, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.