There has been a significant increase in instructions in criminal proceedings in recent years as prosecutions have increased in respect of the Proceeds of Crime Act, benefits fraud and white-collar fraud.
We have been involved in many such cases assisting legal advisers in understanding the financial aspects of the case and tracing the movement of funds.
Fraud investigations can involve employees seeking personal benefit or alternatively commercial fraud whereby suppliers, customers or other organisations seek to benefit from the business.
We are experienced with getting to grips with the situation, investigating the financial records and collating the evidence required to identify fraudsters and the losses arising.
We have been instructed to investigate fraud in support of prosecutions and directly on behalf of businesses.
Additionally, we have significant experience of preparing reports on behalf of the Defence helping to explain the financial records of businesses or individuals and in understanding the evidence against individuals.
It is a sad fact of life that trusted employees can find themselves accused of theft. This is often a huge surprise to both colleagues and employers who simply cannot believe that someone they trusted has stolen from them.
Employee theft may start in a very small way perhaps initially with a mistake that may go unnoticed. Once the employee realises nobody has picked up on the initial loss they may be tempted to take or “borrow” a further small sum which then becomes a habit growing over time.
The impact on companies can be huge resulting in significant losses and serious financial difficulties for the business.
We are experienced in investigating such frauds, and reporting on the evidence to be used in support of criminal convictions.
Commercial fraud occurs when a business is targeted by another business or individual with criminal intent.
Examples of such fraud may include false invoicing or inflated invoices. The supplier submitting such invoices may involve an employee of the target company to ensure the invoices are authorised. Alternatively, a supplier may be passing off inferior products as something else. This can have a major impact where the product is then resold to a third party, a scenario we have advised on which involved a supplier to a retail chain.
We have experience in investigating the financial aspects of such cases both as experts within legal proceedings and directly for companies at the preliminary stage of the investigation. In some cases, the company may wish to reach a settlement with the supplier to avoid commercial embarrassment.
There are strict regulations within the benefits system in respect of who can claim benefits and in what circumstances. These can be dealt with straightforwardly on the initial claim for benefits but issues may arise when a claimant’s circumstances subsequently change. Whether by ignorance or temptation some claimants may continue to receive their benefits when they should have ceased or reduced significantly.
We have reported in several such cases assessing the claimant’s actual income and capital and also the interaction with their benefits claim.
Money laundering is widely defined in the UK. Effectively any involvement or handling with any proceeds of crime, whether cash or assets, can be a money laundering offence with potentially severe consequences.
We have experience of acting in such matters, preparing reports, tracing funds and distinguishing the proceeds of crime from legitimately earned income.
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 enables prosecutors to seek confiscation orders against convicted criminals requiring payment based on the benefit obtained from crimes. This represented a huge step forward in the criminal justice system potentially resulting in a financial penalty on convicted criminals as well as a prison term.
This has resulted in a significant increase in cases requiring the input of forensic accountants. We are experienced in preparing reports in such cases in order to trace the proceeds of crime and in distinguishing such funds from legitimately earned income.