An allegation of white collar fraud or business malpractice can easily cause lasting damage to an individual’s or company’s reputation from which it can be difficult or in many circumstances, impossible to recover. This is likely to be the case whether or not charges are brought or proven, the old saying “there’s no smoke without fire” still holds sway in many areas of the commercial world.
Possible prosecution for offences such as Fraud, Money Laundering and Corporate Manslaughter are becoming more prevalent with the Serious Fraud Office, Trading Standards, HMRC and various regulatory bodies paying close attention to commercial and financial activities.
With the introduction into law of the Bribery Act 2010 what was formerly considered normal business practice could now be seen as giving rise to criminal liability. Under this piece of legislation which came into force on 1 July 2011 a business can be liable on behalf of the actions of one individual. There are defences available if proper procedures are in place and for genuine hospitality expenditure.
When an allegation of this type is made access to your assets can be restricted or even completely withheld during the investigation stage. This is done to preserve assets for future confiscation. The Court will allow an individual an allowance from restricted assets. If this is insufficient it will be necessary to apply to the court for an increase. The period between investigation and eventual court proceedings can last for years causing significant disruption and in many cases, hardship to both individuals and business.
It is prudent to take legal advice at the earliest opportunity. This can often be the crucial factor in whether a matter reaches court. A court hearing will be conducted in the public eye and draw negative publicity irrespective of the eventual verdict. Early legal advice in white collar fraud cases will improve the possibility of avoiding court proceedings and the ramifications of adverse publicity; either by the matter being dropped or a negotiated settlement reached.
From their experience in this field our crime team understand the stress and concerns raised by such investigations and will be more than happy to discuss your case in confidence.
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