Fraud: crime in London Bar
Work taken into account in this Fraud: crime section concerns criminal prosecutions of Ponzi schemes, land-banking scams, VAT frauds, confidence frauds, and boiler rooms, among others. It does not cover regulatory investigations or business crime, such as interest rate manipulation, bribery, and trade union law offences; please see Business and regulatory crime for coverage of those specialisms. POCA and asset forfeiture expertise is also ranked separately, as is violent crime, which is covered in the Crime: general section. That said, many barristers have practices that do not neatly fit within these boxes and so may be ranked in more than one practice area. Civil fraud is also covered separately.
2 Bedford Row has an established reputation for being 'fantastic for heavyweight crime and fraud' with 'incredible strength in depth of counsel'. Corporate frauds, VAT and tax evasion, boiler room scams, and money laundering cases feature prominently in the set's workload. New silk Dean George QC (as a junior) was instructed for the defence in a fuel tax evasion fraud, concerning alleged purchase of agricultural fuel, which has a lower taxable duty payable on it, which was then delivered to UK petrol stations to be sold as non-agricultural fuel.
2 Hare Court is a 'very strong' and 'talented' set with 'an impressive range of counsel'. Recent highlights include new silk David Whittaker QC successfully defending a businessman against two counts of alleged fraud and money laundering after £500,000 was found in his car at the time of his arrest and then at his home address. Meanwhile, Angus Bunyan successfully prosecuted businessmen Terrence Mitchell and Andrew Meikle, who were convicted of running an investment scam by offering investors a fixed interest plan with a guaranteed rate of return; the money was instead used by the defendants for personal means.
'Excellent set' 25 Bedford Row houses a team of 'robust defence practitioners'. The group has been handling, among other areas, high-profile VAT frauds, boiler room scams, and carbon credit cases. Recent highlights include George Carter-Stephenson QC acting in the Operation Treacle £10m fraud case, concerning the resale of tickets for gigs and events.
'Premier set' QEB Hollis Whiteman has an 'impressive breadth and depth' of 'high-quality, talented, and experienced barristers handling criminal fraud cases', a team of barristers which is 'equally sought after to prosecute as well as defend'. The set has reported an uptick in private prosecution work, and has been handling cases involving, for example, carbon credit frauds, investment schemes, and VAT fraud.
Three Raymond Buildings is a 'recognised leader in the field of financial crime', with 'great strength in depth' and 'excellent counsel', according to clients. The set's members are adept at both prosecuting and defending in cases which share elements of business crime and traditional fraud instructions. Recent representative instructions include Luke Ponte acting as sole counsel in the defence of an HMRC officer, who was convicted of fraudulently obtaining tax credits worth £18,000; the defendant received a suspended sentence.
23 Essex Street's members are best known for handling defence work across a spectrum of fraud matters, although the group also has a strong relationship with the Crown Prosecution Service's Specialist Fraud Division and so frequently handles prosecution instructions. Recent cases include Richard Bentwood successfully defending the wife of the Westminster Council's chief investment officer, who allegedly laundered £1m stolen by her husband from the council's pension fund. Mark Fenhalls QC is chair of the Fraud Lawyers Association.
Carmelite Chambers' members have been kept busy of late handling a number of tax and VAT fraud instructions. Of particular note, Colin Aylott QC was instructed as leading counsel on behalf of a partner-level accountant, one of four defendants who were charged with allegedly using two companies, contracted to install broadband for BT and Carillion Telent, to evade VAT payment by setting up bogus companies which were sub-contracted to provide labour to the two main contractors.
For some instructing solicitors, Cloth Fair Chambers is the 'go-to set for the most complex financial crime matters', thanks to its members' expertise which includes a solid track record in providing pre-charge advice to professional individuals concerning tax evasion investigations.
Red Lion Chambers' Gillian Jones QC is acting in a long-running private prosecution concerning alleged international property fraud and forgery of company documents set, while Jane Bewsey QC prosecuted in Operation Twilight, a case concerning six defendants charged with tax fraud by claiming tax relief on a film scheme which never resulted in a film being made.
5 Paper Buildings' Ben Douglas-Jones QC acted for the Crown Prosecution Service's Specialist Fraud Division in prosecuting Philip Bujak, the former CEO of the Montessori St Nicholas Charity, who was convicted of defrauding the charity of £180,000 by using the charity's credit card to pay for personal expenses, inflating printing costs, and fraudulent involvement in the sale of Montessori property. In the junior ranks, Stephen Hopper successfully prosecuted two defendants in one of the first pension liberation frauds to be prosecuted in the UK; the pair were convicted of running an online scheme where pensions funds worth £1m were transferred to them.
6KBW COLLEGE HILL's Esther Schutzer-Weissmann acted in R v Alan Cartledge and others, a case concerning an MTIC fraud valued at £20m, which arose out of HMRC investigations into companies based in the North East of the UK, while Paul Jarvis represented Darren Goulbourne, who was convicted of conspiring to make false representations in connection with a number of fraudulent mortgage applications.
Doughty Street Chambers houses 'a solid team of fraud practitioners'. Rupert Bowers QC is representing West Ham United in an ongoing investigation into alleged tax evasion regarding the transfer of football players, while Benjamin Newton successfully defended Barry Jefferd, an accountant who was acting as financial advisor to Armande Cohen, a former member of the French Resistance, against allegations of fraud by abuse of position and forgery.
Foundry Chambers' members have notable strength in prosecuting across a range of fraud matters, including diversion frauds, VAT cases, and Ponzi schemes, however, they are equally adept at defence work. Recent highlights for the set include Mark Bryant-Heron QC acting for the prosecution in a multi-defendant precious metals £17m VAT fraud.
At Garden Court Chambers, Ali Naseem Bajwa QC represented the defendant in R v Sovu, a case which concerned charges of conspiracy to make and supply technology for fraudulent use, namely credit card reader fraud; the defendant was sentenced to 11-years imprisonment in his absence after absconding from the country during his trial. Meanwhile, Keir Monteith QC represented the defendant in R v Kazz Neufville, a multi-defendant insurance fraud case worth £1m, concerning fake claims for damages at a number of commercial premises across the UK; the defendant was found not guilty.