The commercial activities of businesses are being placed under ever intense scruntiny following the consolidation of existing laws and the creation of new ones to deal with commercial fraud, money laundering and bribery.
Whether dealt with be the Serious Fraud Offence or local economic crime units these cases can be an intimidating prospect for those under investigation. The investigation will usually start with the business premises being subjected to a “raid” where business records and equipment is seized whilst directors, managers and employees are arrested and questioned. What follows is usually a prolonged period over many months whilst the commercial activities of the business are investigated and the prospect of a criminal prosecution hangs over those released on bail.
If the company and/or individuals are prosecuted the case will go through a number of preliminary hearings before ultimately be tried at the Crown Court. During the trial itself the commercial activities of a business and the actions of those in charge will be scrutinised by the prosecution as they attempt to prove that a crime has been committed.
Our business crime solicitors understand the strain that criminal proceedings can place upon defendants. We ensure a proactive and strategic approach to defending allegations of “business crime” utilising the expertise of our own lawyers along with that foresenic accountants, industry experts and specialist counsel.
The introduction of the Fraud Act 2006 simplified the law relating to fraud, establishing a number of new offences which made it easier for prosecutors to bring case against companies and individuals. However, there have been many instances where lack of commercial experience on the part of the investigating officers has resulted in legitimate business practices being prosecuted as dishonest or otherwise unlawful. This is where we can bring not only our legal knowledge but our commercial knowledge to challenge the assumptions made by the prosecution.
In simple terms money laundering involves converting criminal proceeds so they appear of legitimate. However the rules and regulations introduced by the Money Laundering 2007 Act are anything but simple. The fact that the directors or employees of a business did not realise they were being used in laundering criminal proceeds will not necessary mean that they will not be found to be criminally liable. Compliance with money laundering obligations can be complicated and the consequences of breach extremely grave making professional advice and representation essential.
The Bribery Act 2010 introduced new laws aimed at stamping out corruption in commercial activities. The two main offences involve “making a bribe” and “taking a bribe”. In the event that person associated with a business was involved in an act of bribery without the knowledge of the directors the company may still be criminal liable if anti-corruption procedures were not implemented or followed.
In addition to expert representation in defending business crime prosecution we also deal with associated proceedings of Restraint Orders, Confiscation Orders and Director Disqualifications.