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Case Studies from the JMW Protect Team
Evan Wright was instructed by a defendant in a complex and high profile fraud case involving alleged misconduct by bank employees and management consultants. It was said that our client had laundered large sums of money from the fraud, knowing or suspecting that the money represented the proceeds of crime. The case centred on what the prosecution regarded as a corrupt relationship between a senior officer of the bank and management consultants who were appointed to protect the interests of the bank when client companies encountered serious difficulties in repaying loans. Our client argued that the money did not represent the proceeds of crime and also submitted that even if the proceeds turned out to be unlawful, the client could not have known or reasonably suspected that this was the case. The evidence was comprised of over 200,000 pages of evidence and much more in terms of unused material served as a result of the prosecutor's obligations and defence case statements. Financial loss to the bank was variously quoted as tens of millions to several hundred million, depending upon context. The case against our client lasted for four years before the prosecution offered no evidence around one year in advance of what would have been the trial. Cases against co-defendants continued. A formal not guilty verdict was entered in respect of our client in what was a long and very complex piece of trial preparation. The consequences of conviction would have been far reaching for this company director, both in terms of the probable sentence and a confiscation order made in accordance with The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Defending company directors charged with fraud.
Evan Wright is instructed by defendants in a fraud case prosecuted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It is alleged that, in response to a winding up petition presented by HMRC, the defendants made false representations to the High Court about the true financial position of a company in order to secure a validation order permitting them to reopen bank accounts. It is also alleged that debts due to the company were diverted to another company in order to avoid a very significant liability to HMRC. Defendants have been charged with perverting the course of justice, fraud in relation to the High Court application and misconduct in the course of winding up a company. Potential consequences of conviction include a custodial sentence, financial penalties and a confiscation order made in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The defendants deny dishonesty and misconduct. The case continues at the Crown Court.
Intervening in confiscation proceedings on behalf of 3rd parties.
Evan Wright was instructed by a 3rd party in complex confiscation proceedings involving a claim to the beneficial ownership of assets pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service. The client argued that the Crown should not be permitted to include certain valuable assets in a confiscation order made against a relative because the client owned some or all of the value in the relevant asset. The criminal benefit in the case exceeded £10 million and the assets in question were worth over £1.5 million. The argument centred upon the ownership of various properties, motor vehicles, investments and pension funds in the UK and abroad. The client secured her interest and the confiscation order was made without reference to particular assets or by attributing a proportion of an asset to the client.
Defending a cash seizure case on behalf of a financial services company
Evan Wright is instructed by a financial services company in a case involving the seizure of a large amount of money, said to be the proceeds of crime. The Crown argue that because of certain regulatory breaches, offences have been committed contrary to section 23 of the Financial Services and Markets act 2000. It is said that the movement of this money between investments in these particular circumstances created ‘criminal proceeds’ liable to seizure and forfeiture. The company argues that it acted properly as trustee to the fund and denies any regulatory breaches. It therefore resists the application for forfeiture and applies for the money to be returned, including compensation.
Defending against a UK Border Force seizure of goods: Section 139 Customs and Excise Management act 1979.
Evan Wright was instructed by a company following the seizure of a large consignment of goods by UK Border Force. The goods in this case were worth approximately £250,000 and UK border force argued that misrepresentations had been made on the documents in the course of importing the goods to the UK. This amounts to a criminal offence, with a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. It was alleged that the misrepresentations enabled the company to avoid the payment of particular excise duty. Following advice, the company supplied evidence that no offences had been committed and applied for the restoration of the consignment. After legal argument and the presentation of evidence from the UK and abroad, it was accepted that the goods could be restored without penalty.
Securing the discontinuance of a case brought by the General Dental Council.
Evan Wright was instructed by a dentist in a case brought by the General Dental Council. It was said that the dentist had not kept proper records of treatment and claims. It was also said that certain treatment fell far below the required standard and that fraudulent claims had been made against the NHS fund. The dentist denied the dishonesty / conduct allegations and demonstrated that the appropriate improvements have been made in respect of record-keeping. Although the GDC started their case by supporting strong allegations with detailed expert evidence, the presentation of legal argument and detailed responses to each allegation led the GDC to refer the matter back to the investigating committee. They recommended that the matter could be resolved with a caution rather than a prosecution before the panel. An adverse result would have crippled the client's practice and would have resulted in a great deal of additional personal cost.
Representing an authorised firm in an FCA Supervision Review.
Evan Wright is instructed by a financial services firm authorised by the FCA. In 2013 and 2014, the FCA issues alerts to investment advisers in relation to pension transfers/switches with a view to investing pension monies into unregulated investments through a SIPP. Following the alerts, the FCA received information regarding the client's business model to the effect that the firm was active in the pension switching market. This prompted a supervision review and the identification of shortcomings in relation to systems and controls. It is alleged that as a result of the shortcomings, the firm breached the FCA principles for businesses (Skill, care and diligence – Customer interests – Communications – Relationship of trust) and a number of SYSC and COBS rules. JMW negotiated the terms of a Voluntary Requirement and action has been taken by the firm which, it is proposed, should lead to the conclusion of the case without further sanction or enforcement.
Assisting a company with Dual Use Open General Export Licence issues.
Evan Wright was instructed by a firm which encountered difficulties in the exportation of dual use goods to a multi-national client under an Open General Export Licence. It was said that the licence did not cover some items within the consignment and the whole consignment was detained pending a technical investigation. The goods comprised of IT equipment bound for a large installation and delivery was time critical. JMW assisted in organising the onward movement of the goods, demonstrating that the company was acting in good faith and parts of the consignment could be moved without further investigation. New licences were organised for the remainder and the other goods were exported in accordance with new instructions once the restitution fees were paid. The consequences of failing to meet its obligations to the customer would have been far reaching.
Partner and Head of Department
Business Crime, Regulation & Driving Offences