Being prosecuted for offences in connection with a business you are a Director of, or a business you work for can be a daunting and difficult situation. Investigation or prosecution for allegations of Financial Crime can cause significant harm to an individual’s reputation within close knit global financial organisations.
Prosecutions of individuals for Financial Crime have increased significantly as a result of recent legislation to regulate financial practices, technological advances and the setting up and reorganisation investigating bodies. These organisations include the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), National Crime Agency (NCA), Companies House and the fraud Teams from numerous police forces. These organisations can undertake prosecutions and civil asset recovery through the Proceeds of Crime Act against individuals and businesses where criminality is alleged.
At Freemans our Business and Financial Crime lawyers are experienced in dealing with and understand the difficulties investigations and prosecutions by these agencies and others, can have on individuals, company’s employees and their reputations. We can help guide you through the complexities of such investigations and/or prosecutions ensuring you obtain the best result. If any of the above organisations have contacted you regarding the investigation of any alleged offence or prosecution it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of a Business and Financial Crime lawyer immediately.
Business and Financial Crime FAQs
What is Fraud in Financial Crime?
The Fraud Act 2006 formalised the majority of Fraud offences in England and Wales. Fraud requires an individual or Company to act dishonestly and can occur through a number of methods including by:
- Making false representations;
- Failing to provide information when you have a legal duty to provide that information;
- Occupying a safeguarding position and abusing that position;
- Making, supplying or possession articles for use in Fraud;
- Participating in a fraudulent business through fraudulent trading; or
- Obtaining services dishonestly.
What is Bribery?
The Bribery Act 2010 outlines the main Criminal offences relating to Bribery. A person or company commits bribery if they offer, promise, give or receive a financial advantage to/from another with the aim to induce or reward that individual to conduct an improper function or service which is in breach of a relevant expectation. The Bribery Act also includes offences of bribing foreign public officials and failure of commercial organisation to prevent bribery.
What is Money Laundering?
Money Laundering is the process of cleaning or legitimising money generated through criminal activity. The main source of legislation in the UK that relates to money laundering offences is the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The offence of money laundering requires that a person suspect the transaction they have undertaken involved criminal property/money. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings can be taken against individuals after the completion of criminal proceedings to recover any benefit from criminal activity. Alternatively civil proceedings can be brought to recover money or property which is alleged to come from criminal activity using the lower burden of proof under the balance of probabilities.
Can I be arrested for Financial Crime if my actions undertaken when I was working for a company?
Yes. You will likely be held culpable for any actions you have undertaken and are criminally liable. There are exceptions to this rule and even if the Company were deemed to be criminal liable it is conceivable that individual employees could be investigated and/or prosecuted together with the organisation you work for.
Can I be prosecuted for Financial Crime if my actions where based on the direction of my boss?
Yes. However if you were able to demonstrate you were unaware any criminal activity was taking place or you were following employers directions then you could argue the Company or manager are liable.
Who are the Serious Fraud Office (SFO)?
The Serious fraud Office (SFO) are a specialist Government Department directly supervised by the Attorney General dealing with investigations and prosecutions relating to the most serious offending including complex fraud, corruption and bribery allegations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Investigations and Prosecutions by the SFO will normally involve alleged behaviour which involves significant potential economic and financial harm, involves high value financial loss, significant public interest or undermines the UK Financial Markets and particularly those within the City of London. The SFO works closely with other agencies including the NCA, HMRC, FCA and most regional police forces including the City of London and Metropolitan Police. The SFO can compel individuals to provide potential confidential material from its files during its investigations and refusal to provide such information or failure to attend investigation interviews can lead to arrest warrants being issued. Their investigations can be intrusive to individuals involved, including spilling over into the removal of personal documents and computers. Compounding this, both investigations and Prosecutions can take years to complete meaning all parties remain under the spotlight for lengthy periods of time. For these reasons we strongly advise that you seek advice immediately from a specialist Business and Financial Crime Lawyer if you are contacted by the SFO regarding any potential investigation.
Who are the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)?
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are regulate businesses involved in financial markets in the UK to ensure they operate in an “honest, fair and effective” manner. They regulate in the region of 60,000 business and their aim is the protection of promote competition and the protection of financial markets and their customers. Regarding Business and Financial Crime, the FCA conduct investigations into insider dealing and market manipulation, amongst other alleged financial market abuse with one of their key stated aims being the prevention, detection and punishment of those who abuse financial markets. The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) also come under the umbrella of the FCA and regulate banks, building societies, credit unions, insurers and high level investment organisations. The FCA undertake surveillance of financial markets and analysis of data collected whilst working with other agencies including Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the National Crime Agency (NCA). The FCA can conduct their own investigations and it is recommended that you seek advice from a specialist Business and Financial Crime Lawyer immediately if contacted by the FCA.
Who are the National Crime Agency (NCA)?
The National Crime Agency (NCA) deal with serious Organised Crime which spans international boundaries. The NCA deal with international money laundering, cybercrime and international financial crime. The NCA operate in conjunction with all UK Crime Agencies and also together with international criminal agencies including Interpol, Europol and other international agencies. They have the power to arrest, investigate and bring prosecutions in the UK and can potentially do so for offences which were committed abroad. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from a specialist Business and Financial Crime Lawyer immediately if contacted by the NCA.
Can Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Investigate or prosecute me?
The HMRC undertake investigations where tax evasion and fraud is evident and have developed computer program surveillance to identify potential suspects. The Crown Prosecution Service now undertake all HMRC prosecutions. The aim of the HMRC is to ensure compliance UK tax law and prosecutions in this area have significantly increased in recent years due to high profile cases relating to tax evasion and avoidance. Due to advances in collation of information and the development of computer software to correlate data gathered the HMRC have been able to identify tax evasion more readily. If the HMRC successfully prosecute an individual they can also take action in line with the Proceeds of Crime Act to reclaim any unpaid tax or revenue.
Can Local Authorities Investigate and prosecute me?
Local authorities have the power to conduct investigations and prosecute Companies in relation to a variety of alleged offending including breaches relating to: Health and Safety; Trading Standards; Environmental Health; Waste Disposal; Building Control; and Housing enforcement.
Can business Owners/Directors be arrested for individual roles in alleged Financial Crime?
Yes. Business owners and Directors of Company’s can be arrested and others involved in activity suspected of being criminal can be arrested or invited for a Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Interview. If the allegation relates to alleged criminal behaviour by an employee then it can depend on if the employee was acting under direction from their manager in the company or were acting of their own accord. If the employee indicates he were acting under the direct instruction of a specific owner or director then this could mean that owner or director is criminally liable for those actions. If arrested, personal documents and computers can be seized meaning disruption for individuals and their family.
Will I have to attend an interview under caution?
If financial criminal activity is alleged to have been conducted then you will have to attend an interview under caution with the investigating organisation. This can be a daunting experience when dealing with allegations relating to Financial Crime. You would likely be asked questions relating to specific actions taking place over potentially very long periods of time, which most individuals would be unable to recollect from memory given the nature of the voluminous work undertaken in the financial industry. Normal interview procedures relating to criminal allegations are undertaken which either follows arrest whilst being detained or by voluntary interview. If contact by any organisation it is highly recommended that you seek advice from a specialist Business and Financial Crime Lawyer immediately.
As an employee, will I have to attend Court?
Proceedings can be brought against individuals who are employees and agents of companies where Financial Crime is alleged to have taken place. If charged with an offence as an individual you will have to attend Court.
How will I fund Legal Representation if Court Proceedings begin?
At Freemans Solicitors we will explore all funding options for cases and attempt to find the most suitable method for you to fund ongoing investigations or court proceedings.
How can the business be sentenced?
There are a range of sentences open to the courts for individuals including unlimited fines and potential custodial sentences. Post-conviction or civil Proceeds of Crime Act asset recovery proceedings are also available for offences including fraud, corruption, bribery, financial markets, money laundering and tax evasion.
Freemans Solicitors Business and Financial Crime for Individuals
Our team of Business and Financial Crime Lawyers are here to provide clarity and assistance through the challenging process of your investigation or prosecution. If in doubt regarding your potential need for a Business and Financial Crime expert then please do not hesitate to contact us.
In December 2017, Freemans Solicitors was awarded the title of Business Crime Law Firm of the Year in the prestigious Lawyer Monthly Legal Awards.
To discuss your case in confidence, please contact our Business and Financial Crime Layers team directly via, or 020 7935 3522 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org always remembering that early advice is crucial for the best possible outcome. In the case of an emergency please call our 24/7 number 07973 259382