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Corporate Crime

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The legal landscape has changed rapidly in recent years. Both businesses and individuals are facing increasing exposure to criminal investigations and potential enforcement actions across the globe.

Why work with our Corporate Crime team?

At DWF, we bring together a multi-disciplined blend of knowledge and expertise across the regulatory spectrum that puts us in a leading position in the market and enables us to deliver an end-to-end service to meet all of our clients' needs.

Our corporate crime team combines lawyers, forensic accountants, regulatory consultants and technology solutions to provide holistic advice to individuals and corporations in mitigating risk and defending investigations. 

Members of our team have been at the forefront of the most significant and high profile investigations in recent years and are recognised as leading experts in the field.

How we can help you

We combine the experience and expertise of former regulators, investigative lawyers and prosecutors, together with specialists from Forensic (our in-house forensic accountants), and Regulatory Consulting, (our in-house regulatory consultants).

Mindcrest, our ALSP division, can also assist with the large scale, low cost and time-pressured dataset reviews which are invariably involved in the majority of investigations.

Our experience encompasses the following:

Our UK corporate crime team cover the following core areas across international jurisdictions:

Bribery & Corruption

DWF advises on the most significant and high-profile bribery and corruption investigations for multinational companies, conducting both internal and governmental investigations, liaising and negotiating with authorities and defending enforcement actions.

 
Bribery & Corruption

Why work with us?

The current climate of the investigation of bribery and corruption offences means there is now a real risk for individuals and businesses alike. With the value of annual bribes at an estimated $1tn worldwide, both the UK and international authorities are increasingly pursuing the enforcement of bribery and corruption laws.

The Bribery Act 2010 marked a major development in UK law, multiplying the ways in which individuals can commit criminal offences, and criminalising the failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribes paid on their behalf, unless they can show they had adequate preventative procedures in place.

Increased activity by enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting bribery and corruption also highlights the importance of implementing a preventative compliance programme and adopting a tailored approach towards managing the risks associated with anti-bribery and corruption regulatory compliance.

We support our clients by:

  • Advising companies on the application of the Bribery Act 2010 to their jurisdiction, sector and business operations, adopting a risk-based commercial approach.
  • Reviewing companies' anti-bribery compliance mechanisms and advising on additional improvements or wholescale redrafting and implementation of policies.
  • Providing training to all levels of the corporate structure in order to support the corporate defence of demonstrating 'adequate procedures' to prevent bribery.
  • Conducting detailed internal investigations relating to bribery and corruption and managing the relationship with enforcement agencies in the UK and overseas.
  • Advising corporates on whether and when to self-report, as well as advising on and assisting with negotiating plea agreements with the Serious Fraud Office.
  • Representing suspects at all stages of the investigative process through to the defence of criminal proceedings where a negotiated alternative to prosecution is unavailable.

Our experience includes:

  • Acting for a financial services firm in an international bribery investigation led by the Serious Fraud Office and the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Acting for an international engineering company in one of the first prosecutions for failing to prevent bribery under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010.
  • Advising a public body on the conduct of an internal investigation into procurement practices following a public expose in the media.
  • Advising a company in respect of a self-reporting process spanning activities across multiple jurisdictions and enforcement authorities.
  • Representing a leading global property and construction consultancy in an investigation into allegations of fraud and bribery arising from a public health procurement project.
  • Preparing a suite of Bribery Act 2010 compliance documents, including a detailed risk assessment, for an African based mining company.

Serious Fraud

DWF has a proven track record of achieving favourable outcomes for our clients in fraud investigations and extensive experience of liaising with regulators, including the UK Serious Fraud Office and the U.S. Department of Justice.
 
Serious Fraud

Why work with us?

Fraudulent activity is a major global issue and has been declared a national security threat in the UK. Government agencies continue to invest heavily in resource resulting in the increase of fraud investigations and prosecutions.

Fraud cases are extremely complex and it is imperative that both corporate and individual suspects secure specialist legal representation at the very outset in order to optimise the outcome and limit the damage.

Serious fraud covers a broad range of criminal offences. Our experience encompasses cases involving allegations of bribery and corruption, tax fraud, investment fraud, false accounting, bank fraud, index and benchmark manipulation, insider dealing, money laundering and cartels.

We are well placed to advise both corporations and individuals across all sectors who find themselves facing serious allegations of fraud, either as a result of an internal investigation or investigation by the enforcement agencies.

How we can help?

Our global fraud investigations offering includes:

  • Advising suspects, defendants and witnesses who find themselves exposed as a result of a corporate investigation or investigation by an enforcement authority.
  • Assistance with dawn raid situations, where property is seized, and individuals are arrested or interviewed under caution.
  • Conducting internal investigations to identify incidents of financial crime, helping businesses to enhance their systems and controls, implement counter fraud measures and recovery proceedings, and (where appropriate) self-report to law enforcement agencies.
  • Assisting organisations that have identified incidents of fraud or misconduct perpetrated by directors or employees, their advisers, agents or associates by working with our global civil fraud and insurance fraud teams.
  • Reviewing companies' fraud prevention policies and procedures and advising on additional improvements or wholescale redrafting and implementation.

Our experience

Members of our team have been involved in the following matters:

  • Advising a director subject to a multi-jurisdictional investigation led by the Serious Fraud Office into an alleged fraudulent conspiracy and corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Conducting an internal investigation for a quasi-public body into an alleged multi million pound public procurement supplier fraud.
  • Advising an international construction consultancy firm under investigation for an alleged £50 million public procurement fraud.
  • Advising an international haulage company in relation to an investigation brought by HM Revenue and Customs for the alleged fraudulent evasion of excise duty.
  • Conducting an internal investigation for an international engineering company in relation to allegations of misleading the auditor.
  • Advising a former director of a national wholesale meat supplier in the largest ever fraud investigation conducted by the Food Standards Agency.
  • Acting for the former CEO of an AIM listed IT managed services firm for allegedly making misleading statements to the market.
  • Advising an international grocery company in relation to a global review of its fraud prevention policies and procedures.

Proceeds of Crime & Money Laundering

Our expert Corporate Crime lawyers advise international corporations on money laundering investigations and regulatory compliance.
 
Proceeds of Crime & Money Laundering

Why work with us?

The UK's anti-money laundering (AML) regime is one of the toughest in the world, presenting a real risk for individuals and businesses operating in the UK.

In addition, AML legislation has brought entities in the regulated sector within its remit, including solicitors, bankers and accountants, who are now required to implement checks, controls and procedures to prevent money laundering. A failure to do so might be a criminal offence.

Increased activity by enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting money laundering highlights the importance of preventative compliance programmes. We understand that organisations need a tailored approach towards managing the risks associated with AML compliance.

How we can help?

We provide expert advice to individuals and businesses who either find themselves under investigation or are seeking to minimize their risks under the law.

We advise those subject to investigations and prosecutions for substantive money laundering offences and breaches of preventative compliance obligations.

We also provide a wide variety of compliance-related advice and assistance, including:

  • Providing expert advice on when to make a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR), including requests for a defence against money laundering (DAMLs) and related prohibitions on ‘tipping-off’.
  • Conducting an internal investigation where a company suspects that a breach may already have occurred and advising on remediation and mitigation.
  • Drafting policies and procedures to assist organisations in complying with their AML requirements and ensuring that robust controls are in place.
  • Conducting anti-money laundering audits for individuals and corporate entities, and advising on prevention measures and compliance requirements.
  • Regularly reviewing companies' AML compliance mechanisms and advising on additional improvements or wholescale redrafting and implementation of policies.
  • Providing money laundering training to ensure businesses stay abreast of the latest developments in AML legislation.

Our team's experience

  • Representing a Company Director in a police investigation for money laundering arising from an alleged multi million pound fraud.
  • Advising an acquiring company on its obligations under the AML legislation in making a SAR during a complex, multi million pound M&A transaction.
  • Advising a company on its options in restructuring and reporting obligations under the SAR regime during a criminal investigation into alleged bribery.
  • Advising a number of law firms on their reporting obligations and the scope of the AML legislation in the context of Legal Professional Privilege and their exposure to criminal and regulatory sanction in that context.
  • Auditing and advising on the adequacy of, and potential improvements to, a regulated company's AML policies and procedures.

Tax Investigations

Our team of expert tax lawyers has a proven track record of successfully defending both individuals and companies in civil and criminal HMRC investigations in the UK and overseas.
 
Tax Investigations

Why work with us?

The UK Government has placed unlawful tax avoidance, evasion and fraud at the heart of its enforcement priorities for the next few years. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) recently stated that the tax affairs of around half of large businesses are under active consideration.

HMRC has a two track approach to dealing with cases of suspected fraud: a civil enquiry where an individual is 'invited' to disclose the conduct leading to the irregularities in their tax affairs; or a criminal investigation where HMRC is seeking to send a strong deterrent message or only a criminal sanction is considered appropriate.

A new threat to businesses has also arisen from the corporate criminal offence of failure to prevent the criminal facilitation of tax evasion under the Criminal Finances Act 2017, which imposes liability on organisations who fail to prevent persons associated with them from committing the facilitation of tax evasion.

However, a defence is available if the company had Reasonable Prevention Procedures in place to prevent its associated persons from facilitating tax evasion. It is therefore vitally important to undertake an assessment of the risks under the new “failure to prevent” laws and the extent to which current procedures address those risks.

How we can help?

We seek to encourage non-contentious resolution of investigations by HMRC. However, where a criminal investigation and subsequent prosecution cannot be avoided, our experience as criminal litigators places us in an unrivalled position to advise clients and ensure the strongest possible defence is advanced.

We also advise and assist with identyfying the tax evasion risks and developing and reviewing policies and procedures to prevent any person associated with the company from facilitating tax evasion in contravention of the new corporate criminal offence.

Our team's experience

  • Representing an international haulage company in relation to condemnation proceedings issued by HMRC arising from the alleged evasion of fuel duty.
  • Advising and representing a shareholder of a national recycling company in a £174 million Landfill Tax dispute with HMRC.
  • Advising and representing a company and director in a multimillion pound Kittel VAT, Construction Industry Scheme and Gross Payment Status dispute with HMRC.
  • Advising and representing one of the largest bonded warehouses in Europe in a dispute with UK Border Force over the legality of their seizures and Excise Duty drawback claims.
  • Advising and representing an accountant in a £36 million payroll dispute with HMRC.
  • Advising and representing a Dubai-based HNW individual to settle a £1.7 million under declaration of tax and negotiation of a time to pay agreement with HMRC.
  • Advising and representing an international hedge fund in a multimillion pound VAT dispute with HMRC, advising and representing the director for proceedings under the Insolvency Act 1986 and the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

Private Prosecutions

Our expert lawyers have a proven track record in successfully assisting individuals and companies, that are a victim of crime, to bring their own prosecutions.
 
Private Prosecutions

Why work with us?

At a time when the resources of enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute crime are increasingly stretched, private prosecutions can offer an important remedy to those who seek justice and redress in relation to criminal conduct that has affected them or their business.

A private prosecution is a criminal prosecution pursued by a private person or body and not by a statutory prosecuting authority. It operates in exactly the same way as public prosecutions. If convicted, the defendant will be sentenced in the same way and (if a victim has suffered loss) they may ask the court for an order to compensate them for their loss.

The right to pursue a private prosecution is becoming an increasingly popular remedy, especially for companies that have fallen victim to economic crime. It is a powerful tool in the fight against fraud, corruption and intellectual property infringement, and should be a consideration for any company that has fallen victim to economic crime.

How we can help?

By involving us from the earliest stages we can advise you on what course of action is best suited to your case (e.g whether to prosecute privately, involve law enforcement agencies or commence civil litigation).

We can guide you to gather and present evidence, ensuring a private prosecution has the best chance of success. Conversely, where a private prosecution is not the appropriate response, we can help individuals and companies to report crimes to the right authority or agency in order to seek redress.

Our team's experience

  • Acting in one of the largest private prosecutions brought to date arising from a £25 million 'Ponzi' investment fraud in Dubai.
  • Conducting numerous private prosecutions for non-enforcement bodies involving offences of fraud and money laundering.
  • Advising insurers on the private prosecution process and the merits of specific cases that could be brought to prosecution.

Criminal Defence & Police Investigations

Our team of specialist criminal defence lawyers have been involved in some of the most significant and high profile cases in recent decades.
 
Criminal Defence & Police Investigations

Why work with us?

DWF boasts a wealth of experience in representing clients facing police investigations and prosecutions for a broad range of serious criminal offences including fraud, drug offences, rape and other serious sexual offences, grievous bodily harm and murder.

Whatever the offence, we are well placed to provide advice and representation to clients from attending initial police station interviews through to appearing in trials before the Magistrates' or Crown Courts and beyond.

We regularly act on behalf of prominent figures including senior business executives, government officials, sportsman and those in the entertainment industry. For such individuals, the prospects of facing a criminal investigation can carry devastating consequences, both reputationally and professionally.

We are highly experienced in addressing any linked regulatory and disciplinary proceedings and work closely with reputation management colleagues in tackling any negative media attention.

How we can help?

Regardless of the nature of the offence, it is imperative to obtain expert legal advice immediately. By involving us from the outset we can advise on the best course of action and help to resolve the matter quickly, reducing risk of potentially damaging consequences.

We are able to offer guidance and support throughout the police station process and, in cases which result in charge, will work tirelessly to ensure that the matter is robustly defended. We will review all of the evidence and ensure that any point of challenge is carefully considered.

Our first-class standards in case preparation have resulted in a high rate of acquittals. For those cases where a conviction is unavoidable, we will advance the best possible mitigation package in order to secure the most favourable outcome.

Our team's experience

  • Acting for the former CEO of an AIM listed IT managed services firm for allegedly making misleading statements to the market.
  • Acting on behalf of a senior solicitor in criminal contempt proceedings before the High Court following a breach of undertakings in relation to the disappearance of £9.3 million of client funds.
  • Acting on behalf of the senior chaplain of an elite public school facing a catalogue of historical sexual abuse allegations brought by 9 complainants dating back to the 1980's.
  • Acting on behalf of a musician facing an allegation of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life which followed a planned revenge shooting.
  • Representing a former corporate banker facing allegations of insider dealing in the largest FCA investigation to date.
  • Advising a senior government official on responding to applications brought by the media relating to their son's criminal proceedings.
  • Acting on behalf of a professional photographer accused of various counts of sexual assault committed against aspiring models and actresses in the course of professional photoshoots.
  • Acting on behalf of an individual accused of hacking a multinational e-commerce company's trading accounts for the sale of gold bullion with the fraudulent activity exceeding £700,000.

Extradition & Mutual Legal Assistance

The international nature of business has led to an increased risk in companies and individuals becoming subject to investigations by overseas authorities. 
 
Extradition & Mutual Legal Assistance

Why work with us?

Extradition is a complex area of law in its own right. It is imperative that individuals obtain legal advice if they are subject to or believe that they may be at risk of an extradition request. By involving us from the outset we can advise you on the best course of action and help to resolve the matter quickly, thereby reducing any potentially damaging consequences.

We are able to offer guidance and support throughout the process and work tirelessly to ensure the matter is robustly defended. We will review the request and ensure that any point of challenge is carefully considered.

Our enviable network of experts and first-class standards in case preparation have resulted in the discharge of a significant number of arrest warrants in recent years. At DWF, we also hold significant experience in tackling negative media attention and work closely with reputation management colleagues in order to protect our client's interests.

Members of our team are involved with organisations such as the International Bar Association, Defence Extradition Lawyers' Forum and Extradition Lawyers' Association which enables us to keep abreast of the rapid legal changes in this specialist area and current jurisdictional issues.

How we can help with extradition

We hold a track record in securing the discharge of an arrest warrant issued by requesting states either before the Court of first instance or before the higher Courts on appeal, working closely with a network of foreign lawyers, academics and political experts to ensure that our clients receive the best service.  

Whilst we specialise in extradition requests involving allegations of financial crime, bribery and corruption, we have acted for individuals subject to arrest warrants issued for a wide range of offences including espionage, serious drug offences, human trafficking, rape and murder.

How we can help with Mutual Legal Assistance

In recent years there has been a significant global increase in mutual legal assistance – a method of cooperation between States for obtaining assistance in the investigation or prosecution of criminal offences.

Our international presence enables us to provide expert legal advice to businesses and individuals, be they witnesses or suspects, in order to safeguard against extradition in cross-border criminal cases, especially those involving parallel investigation by agencies such as the FCA/SFO and the DOJ.

How we can help with Interpol Red Notices

We are experienced in challenging Interpol Red Notices. Such notices are issued where a country seeks the location and arrest of a wanted individual and can constrain an individual's liberty and ability to travel for business. Often an individual will be unaware of such a notice and a notice can remain live even where an extradition request has been successfully challenged.

Our team's experience

  • Acting on behalf of a former academic facing extradition to Greece for offences of slander and extortion. The case raised arguments surrounding political motivation and corruption as well as non-compliance with Article 3 of the ECHR. The European Arrest Warrant was discharged at first instance.
  • Acted on behalf of an individual on appeal against an extradition order to Hungary. This reported case concerned the proper ambit of an accusation European Arrest Warrant when an individual is categorised as a convicted person for the purposes of the Extradition Act 2003.
  • Acting on behalf of a director alleged to have been the head of an organised crime group for offences of blackmail, fraud and human trafficking across the Ukraine, Russia and Moldova. This was the latest test case concerning breaches of assurances by the Lithuanian Judicial Authority and Article 3.
  • Acting on behalf of a company director facing extradition to Poland for several sophisticated burglaries committed more than two decades ago. The European Arrest Warrant was discharged at first instance due to a "dilatory and inconceivable" delay.

Sanctions & Export Controls

DWF is a leading advisory firm in the field of sanctions and export controls, frequently called upon to advise on the application of sanctions regimes and assist businesses engaged in international trade.
 
Sanctions & Export Controls

Why work with us?

Sanctions and export controls are now a key risk for companies engaged in international trade. The risk of corporate fines and personal criminal liability, combined with constantly changing regimes reflecting changing political developments makes it a high-risk yet complex area of legal compliance.

The challenge facing businesses is how market participants operating in a global context, in complex supply chains, and in high-risk jurisdictions, can ensure compliance with challenging and continually evolving sanctions restrictions. With little in terms of guidance or case law, risk-assessment tends to fall to the commercial decision-makers in business.

There are, however, serious consequences for entities that breach sanctions. The financial sanctions regime requires absolute compliance to avoid the risk of prosecution. Criminal liability arises under UK law if sanctions are breached by designated entities or by individuals or companies transacting with such entities.

How we can help?

  • We provide our clients with practical strategies to navigate the complicated and changing sanctions regimes as issues arise, including guidance on risk assessment, screening and due diligence, monitoring and reporting.
  • DWF's corporate crime expertise leaves us ideally placed to advise on actual or potential sanctions breaches and related reporting obligations, including interactions with regulators and enforcement agencies worldwide.
  • For individuals who have been made the subject of sanctions or restrictive measures we can provide assistance in making an application to have these restrictions removed or to obtain a licence authorising the use of frozen funds from HM Treasury.
  • We also represent companies and individuals regarding trade control issues, in particular with regard to the risk of enforcement action or a criminal investigation for breaches of export or import controls.

Professional Discipline

DWF has extensive experience of successfully defending disciplinary and regulatory investigations across a wide range of professions.
 
Professional Discipline

Why work with us?

Compliance with the standards set by professional regulatory bodies is of the upmost importance for all regulated professionals. Firms and individuals must ensure they meet the standards required or risk facing serious consequences.

Professionals face complex regulatory regimes and these, coupled with strong enforcement activity, increases the need for legal support. We understand the complexity of these challenges and offer tailored solutions to assist throughout the course of an investigation, from initial enquiries through to final hearings.

How we can help?

The DWF team understands the challenges faced by clients, especially in the following professions:

  • Accountancy – we have extensive experience in defending accountants under investigation by the Financial Reporting Council; the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales; the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Taxation Disciplinary Board for the Chartered Institute of Taxation.
  • Actuarial – the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries typically receives only around a dozen complaints a year relating to professional misconduct. We have acted in contested cases every year for at the past five years, giving us an unparalleled level of experience with this regulator.
  • Legal – we are best known for acting for solicitors and barristers in disciplinary investigations linked to high profile social or professional misconduct in court proceedings. We regularly receive instructions from the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund in relation to disciplinary investigations by the Bar Standards Board.
  • Financial Services – there has been a steady growth in individuals facing Financial Conduct Authority enforcement and disciplinary proceedings. With our team of former regulatory enforcement lawyers, we are well-placed to represent and advise individuals in the financial services sector throughout all stages of disciplinary proceedings.

Our team's experience

  • Acting for a solicitor in a Solicitor Regulation Authority (SRA) and subsequently in proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in relations to allegations of dishonesty and unprofessional conduct.
  • Acting for a regulator in the health and social care sector in the defence of judicial review proceedings issued by a registrant.
  • Acting for a partner at a top 20 UK Law Firm based in the Middle East in relation to a complaint of mishandling a large commercial litigation claim.
  • Acting for a barrister in relation to a BSB disciplinary investigation arising from a complaint of misleading the court with potential dishonesty.
  • Acting for the former Chief Financial Officer of a listed company under investigation by the FRC in relation to a complaint of lacking competency.
  • Acting for a senior partner of a law firm under investigation by the SRA for alleged social misconduct.
  • Acting for a Top 20 accountancy firm in a disciplinary complaint to the ICAEW concerning the sufficiency and adequacy of the audit of a multi-million pound company.
  • Acting for a solicitor in SRA, and subsequently in procedeings bfore the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, in relation to allegations of dishonesty and unprofessional conduct.

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