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The Conservative Party has published its 2017 Manifesto, entitled “Forward together: Our plan for a stronger Britain and a prosperous future”. The manifesto includes a commitment to strengthen Britain’s response to white collar crime by incorporating the Serious Fraud Office into the National Crime Agency, improving intelligence sharing and bolstering the investigation of serious fraud, money laundering and financial crime.

There are numerous reasons to be critical of this commitment. The top ten are: Continue reading

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An announcement that the CPS will not be bringing a prosecution rarely makes front page news. On 10 May 2017, the news that no charges would be brought following a high profile police investigation into allegations concerning the expenditure of Conservative Party candidates during the 2015 General Election campaign did just that. The allegations were investigated by 14 police forces, and were said to concern several parliamentary candidates, including serving MPs, and their election agents allegedly submitting inaccurate expense returns.

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In criminal law, the law surrounding the concept of dishonesty, an element in many charges, has been largely settled since 1982, by the famous judgement of Lord Lane in R v Ghosh, requiring both proof of subjective and objective dishonesty. The issue has been less clear in regulatory cases, and was seemingly turned on its head by the judgement in Malins v SRA [2017] EWHC 835.

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The Education Act 1996 is a wide ranging piece of legislation, much of which is now repealed, comprising of 583 sections and an additional 40 schedules. Those involved in drafting the Act, more than 20 years ago, probably did not expect that in the future a Supreme Court of England and Wales would need to interpret a single word in section 444(1) in one of the most high profile and controversial legal cases for some time. Continue reading

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While the letter triggering Article 50 was being delivered  the EU Home affairs sub- Committee was in session considering “Criminal Justice Cooperation with the EU after Brexit: The European Arrest Warrant inquiry“.

Oral evidence was given by academics and practitioner experts including Professor Sir Francis Jacobs QC, Professor of Law and Jean Monnet Professor; former Advocate General, King’s College London, European Court of Justice and Dr Anna Bradshaw, Member of the Law Society’s EU Committee; Counsel, Law Society, Peters and Peters.

The remit of this inquiry is to follow up on the Sub-Committee’s previous report on Brexit: UK-EU security and police cooperation by examining more closely how the Government’s intention to “bring an end to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the UK” will affect the UK’s ability to sustain “deep cooperation” with the EU and its Member States in the fight against crime and terrorism.

Some EU leaders felt that Theresa May’s Article 50 letter was threatening that a failure to reach a comprehensive Brexit agreement covering crucial deals on justice and home affairs would result in a weakening of cooperation on crime and security. For more see Legal update, Government triggers Article 50 and starts countdown to Brexit.

The former Belgian prime minister (Guy Verhofstadt ) who represents the European parliament in the negotiations, called it a threat and said the security of citizens was “far too important to start a trade-off of one and the other”

David Davis, Minister for Brexit, responded by confirming that the terms of the letter did not constitute a threat to withdraw security cooperation with the EU if no final deal is reached before Britain’s exit in two years’ time.

The UK and the EU-27 share a strong mutual interest in sustaining police and security cooperation post Brexit. In contrast to other policy areas, all states stand to gain from a positive outcome to this aspect of the negotiations and so it should be dealt with separately. There is a perceived risk that there will be limits to how closely the UK and EU-27 can work together if they are no longer accountable to, and subject to oversight and adjudication by, the same EU institutions, for example the CJEU. Continue reading

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The Treasury has unveiled plans to create a new watchdog that will tackle potential weaknesses in the anti-money laundering supervisory system. The new Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) will seek to improve the overall standards of supervision and ensure supervisors and law enforcement work together more effectively.

The news that HM Government is to create such an office is not surprising. Sectors at risk of being used to facilitate money laundering and terrorist financing are supervised by 25 organisations, 22 of which are accountancy and legal services providers’ professional bodies and set down in schedule 3 of the Money laundering Regulations 2007. The complex and unified landscape was therefore ripe for reform and simplification. For more information see Legal update, HM Government to create Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision.

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Corporate wrong doing has been on and off the agenda over the past couple of years. While the City faces criticism for providing money laundering services,  the Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a Cabinet Office review of the effectiveness of the current investigatory and prosecution authorities to tackle economic crime. This may not address the problem. The Law Commission has stated that the current corporate liability regime makes prosecuting large companies impossibly difficult.  Continue reading

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A score for the police?

A surprising theft conviction was reported in the media this week, when a 23 year old woman was convicted of theft after keeping a £20 note she found in a shop in Blurton, Staffordshire.  Three months after picking up the money, the woman was contacted by the police and asked to attend a voluntary police station for an interview. She later received a letter asking her to attend court, where she entered a plea of guilty to theft. She received a conditional discharge, in addition to £135 in court costs. Continue reading

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The time spent discussing and commenting on the future of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is extensive. No other investigation or prosecution agency seems to attract the same level of speculation as to what it should do, how successful it should be, who should superintend it, how much money it should receive and whether it should exist at all.

Often missing from this debate is the changing role of the SFO during its 30 years. Originally its remit was, as the title suggests, the investigation and prosecution of serious fraud. Over time, it has become the lead agency in England and Wales for prosecuting bribery and corruption, developed a substantial unit dedicated to recovering the proceeds of crime, and more recently been the lead agency for the introduction of Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA). As HM Government’s call for evidence on the reform of corporate liability progresses (see Blog, Or the beginning of corporate prosecution? 3 February 2017) and the “failure to prevent” offence is gradually expanded, the SFO’s current workload is only going to increase. Continue reading