Fraud, Business and Financial Crime

At a time of rapid development in the field of fraud, successful outcomes depend more than ever upon experienced and innovative counsel.

We regularly defend and prosecute in some of the most complex and high-profile cases, particularly those involving corporate fraud and cases with an international dimension.  Our members have appeared in some of the most high-profile fraud cases in recent years, including the LIBOR and EURIBOR manipulation trials, the SFO investigation into Celtic Energy Ltd, and Operation Greenyards, concerning the £141 million fraud by City traders on Russian bank Otkritie. We appeared on both sides of the prosecution of Sweett Group Limited, the first prosecution under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010, and prosecuted Skansen Interior Limited, securing the first conviction for failing to prevent bribery.

Chambers is recognised as a leading set for Fraud by the Legal 500, and a number of our silks and juniors also rank highly in Chambers and Partners, which recognises Chambers’ “particular strength in the prosecution of financial crime cases”.  Our market-leading fraud practitioners are variously described as “fearless” and “fair but firm” and lauded for their “impeccable judgement”, “cool-headed and approachable manner” and “strategic input to fraud and corruption cases”.  Julian Christopher QC is a long-standing contributing editor to Archbold, with responsibility for the chapters on Theft and Fraud, LPP and Disclosure.

Our collective experience encompasses fraud of all types: from Ponzi schemes to VAT carousels; from immigration fraud to tax cheats; from advance fee, mortgage and pension frauds to insider dealing and corruption in football. 

The breadth and depth of Chambers’ experience in this field means that our assistance is frequently sought by corporate clients and individuals who find themselves the subject of investigation.  From the very early stages, we offer clients not only our technical expertise but also practical advice on effective corporate compliance procedures, internal investigations and engagement with regulators in order to mitigate commercial risk and achieve effective resolution, including through the negotiation of Deferred Prosecution Agreements.

Corporate Fraud, Tax and Regulatory Offences

We are experienced across the spectrum of corporate fraud and have acted in numerous high-profile cases involving domestic and international corporations including commercial banks, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, pension and hedge funds, bureaux de change and money service businesses.

Chambers remains at the forefront of prosecution work in this area through strong representation across government specialist fraud counsel panels, including those of the CPS Specialist Fraud Division and Serious Fraud Office.  We also regularly advise and prosecute for the Financial Conduct Authority across its range of casework, including insider dealing and other forms of market manipulation, the Insolvency Service (formerly BIS) for offences under the Companies Act, Insolvency Act and lesser known regulatory offences, and the Competition and Markets Authority (successor to the Office of Fair Trading).  Our barristers also act in corporate private prosecutions.

We have a number of members with specialist expertise in direct and indirect tax fraud, including marketed tax avoidance schemes centred on the development and pre-production of films, carbon credits, anti-dumping duty and charitable donations. Both silks and juniors have appeared in some of the largest “missing trader” VAT (MTIC) trials in recent years.  Members also bring their criminal experience to cases in both tiers of the Tax Tribunal.

Junior tenants in Chambers regularly act as disclosure counsel in significant fraud investigations and prosecutions, both for the prosecution and defence. Several have gained invaluable experience undertaking secondments at specialist fraud prosecution agencies.

Bribery and Corruption

Our barristers work at the cutting edge of this developing field.  We have been involved in some of the most high-profile bribery and corruption cases in recent years.  Examples include:-

  • Instructions on both sides of the first ever prosecution brought by the Serious Fraud Office for failing to prevent bribery, contrary to Section 7 of the Bribery Act (against the Sweett Group PLC)
  • Prosecuting Skansen Interiors Ltd in the first ever contested jury trial brought under Section 7
  • Defending a UBS Compliance Officer charged with five counts of insider dealing worth £1.4 million
  • Prosecuting for the SFO in relation to the bribery of Lithuanian politicians and officials by companies in the Alstom group
  • Representing the manager of a pharmaceutical company in an SFO investigation into foreign corruption
  • Representing footballers accused of match-fixing
  • Prosecuting the largest ever UK investigation into corruption in horseracing (Operation Krypton)

Our experience in prosecutions brought under the Bribery Act 2010, in particular the offence of “failing to prevent bribery” (Section 7) is invaluable to corporate and individual clients at the early stages of an SFO investigation, or to those simply wishing to review and enhance their in-house due diligence procedures, particularly in connection with operations in high-risk jurisdictions.

Money Laundering

Our Members have acted in some of the largest and most complex money laundering cases of recent years, frequently involving a cross border element. Recent cases include:-

  • Prosecuting the management team of a Bureau de Change and a team of money couriers for laundering £100 million.  The bureau’s customers included the head of a drug importation syndicate who was subsequently jailed for 27 years (Operation Veneer)
  • A prosecution in relation to the laundering of the proceeds of a £1.4m cyber fraud on a film production company (Operation Khamsin) 
  • Prosecuting the manager of an international Money Service Business which was part of a laundering network with linked businesses in Amsterdam, Pakistan and Dubai, in a case investigated by the National Crime Agency (Operation Luster)
  • Prosecuting an organised crime group which opened multiple bank accounts in false identities using “mules” flown into the country specifically for that purpose.  The accounts were used to launder the proceeds of a multi-million-pound eBay fraud (Operation Fireball)
International Corporate and Financial Crime

Our Members represent prosecution authorities and individual and corporate defendants in overseas jurisdictions, advising and appearing before courts of first instance and appeal in cases of serious fraud, corruption and money laundering. We have appeared recently in Hong Kong, Brunei, the Caribbean and Jersey, with one member currently serving as Senior Crown Counsel (Specialist) in Bermuda and another seconded to the Department of Public Prosecutions in the Cayman Islands. Chambers also advise, by direct access, individuals and companies in Asia in respect of fraud, money laundering and corruption.

Examples of our international work include:

  • Representing the Attorney General of Brunei in proceedings against two senior judges for criminal breach of trust and money laundering
  • Representing the Department of Justice of Hong Kong in the Court of Final Appeal in two leading cases on the construction of money laundering provisions
  • Acting for the DPP of Trinidad and Tobago on the corruption arising out of the construction of the new Piarco Airport in Trinidad and Tobago