Where Crime and Commerce Collide

Every year, thousands of victims are targeted by sophisticated career criminals often using advanced technology to promote fraudulent financial schemes to the estimated value of about £500m. On average, an innocent victim loses about £20,000 although one of the largest individual losses amounted to £6m.

The National Fraud Authority, the Financial Services Authority, the City of London’s Economic Crime Directorate and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, set up by the City of London Police in 2010, are some of the organisations which are engaged in combating fraudulent scams which can leave victims financially ruined and, in some cases, suicidal.

Are these and other relevant organisations adequately resourced? To what extent are the proceeds of such fraud used to fund other types of organised crime?

 

Do these names mean anything to you: ‘Enron’, ‘Ernest Saunders’, ‘Barlow Clowes’? How are ordinary people effected by business fraud? What is the role of the Serious Fraud Office?

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Money Laundering Regulations issued in 2003 and 2007 reformed anti-money laundering law. Lawyers and legal professional staff need to be ever watchful and vigilant in their attempts to identify suspicious circumstances. Depending upon the seriousness of the money laundering offence, a conviction can result in a custodial sentence of 14 years. Ignorance is no defence and, until arrested, a lawyer might not even be aware that he or she is part of money laundering criminal activity. The offence may be committed without the lawyer ever actually handling the money-laundered funds. Law firms need to provide training to their staff so as to enable them to detect early on any fraudulent activity.