Our Case List

Asset Tracing

 

Hidden Divorce Assets:
 

♦      In 2007 we were instructed by South African Lawyers to assist their client, a women who had been divorced several years ago. The former wife believed that the husband had failed to disclose some of his assets.

 

Within one month we discovered shares that he had hidden and share options that were worth at current value nearly £200,000. This represented an addition of nearly 40% on the original divorce settlement – Re MvJ


Proceeds of fraud:
 

♦    We were instructed by UK solicitors to assist their client, Lord G, who had been defrauded of £10 million in family trust assets by what is known as an advanced fee fraud combined with a  Ponzi  scheme. We provided expert advice in obtaining a Freezing Order and Search Order against the alleged fraudster. By this means the client recovered all his money that was frozen in multiple offshore bank accounts. This recovery was achieved within six weeks of instruction. – Re Lord G Recovery

 

♦        We were instructed by UK solicitors acting for a Canadian client who had been defrauded of several million pounds in an Advanced Fee fraud perpetrated by individuals based in the UK. We provided expert advice in obtaining a Freezing Order and Search Order against the alleged fraudster. The Search Order was conducted at multiple UK locations and resulted in a full recovery. The case continued with a professional negligence claim against an accountant where we also gave expert advice. – Re H


♦       We were instructed by a major global bank to assist in the investigation and recovery of funds fraudulently removed from a subsidiary in Prague by the Head of IT. In conjunction  with the bank's own fraud investigators in excess of $6 million was recovered. A film was made of this major compliance breach extracts of which are shown in our Fraud Section. – Re GEC


Financial service irregularities/fraud/professional negligence
 

♦        We were instructed by liquidators to investigate the activities of an insurance group operating in the UK and Gibraltar. We uncovered a fraud on bondholders, whose origins were in the early 1990’s but had been hidden by account ting manipulation so that the full extent of the fraud was not revealed until 2005, after the death of the Chairman. Our report has been used as a basis for taking action against the deceased’s estate and various professional advisers. The claims amount to many millions of pounds – Re EAG
 

♦         Our client had been the Senior Partner in a Law firm based in Mayfair. He had retired from the practice but overlooked the fact that he was still the guarantor of the rent on the firms premises. Some years after retiring the remaining partners filed for bankruptcy and the landlord sought recovery of sums due under the lease by enforcing the rent guarantee. We were asked to establish whether the partners had hidden assets and failed to disclose them at the time of declaring themselves bankrupt. We located substantial trust assets and foreign properties hidden by a partner that led to an out of court settlement agreement on the rent guarantee. – Re B

Commercial Litigation

Calculation of Damages arising from a restraint of trade:

We were instructed by solicitors acting for two former employees of company E. They had left their company and set up an employment recruitment agency but Company E had obtained an injunction restricting their ability to trade. In a subsequent hearing the injunction was overturned. We were asked to calculate the loss of business opportunity. The matter subsequently proceeded to arbitration and our clients won substantial damages. – Re E

Calculation of Damages arising from a pre-contract misrepresentation:

We were instructed by a company director whose company had entered into a franchise contract with a quoted public company. He had invested in the franchise based on forecasts produced by the franchisor. The company, which was in the parcel delivery business, never came close to achieving the forecast profits and soon ran out of operating funds, so that the franchisor had to lend money to the company. Eventually the franchisee failed and the franchisor sought to enforce a personal guarantee on the company director, demanding £350,000. We demonstrated that the forecasts were wrong both in fundamental principles and in base line revenue and costs. After extensive negotiation not only was the £350,000 demand withdrawn but we obtained £225,000 of damages. Re SW

Calculation of Damages arising from an Intellectual Property dispute:

We were instructed by solicitors who were acting for a Japanese clothing manufacturer where a breach of copyright terms had been upheld in favour of the copyright holder. We were asked to create a report identifying the faults in the copyright holders experts report on the quantum of damages. This involved detailed analysis of manufacturing and shipping records as well as the original contract. The report resulted in a substantial reduction in the damages that actually had to be paid. Re Y

Calculation of damages in a claim in relation to defective goods:

We were instructed as Joint Single Experts, instructed by both parties in settling the damages in a contractual dispute and acting for the Court. We produced a report which eventually resulted in a mutually agreed settlement – Re I

Calculation of damages and consequential losses arising from breaches of warranty in a purchase/sale of a business:

In 2004 we were approached by two businessmen who had purchased a manufacturing business. After acquisition they discovered that for many years there had been a substantial fraud operating between employees of the primary customer and the previous owners and directors of the company purchased. Litigation was extremely complex as the clients had invested all their funds in the business that started to fail. We worked with our clients to establish the size of the losses which was very substantial. Fraudulent activity was detected over at least a ten year period and probably longer and the amounts defrauded ran into many millions of pounds. Our clients took the matter to the police and the former directors were found guilty of fraud and each sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. The court gave leave for our clients to enter into a civil action for breach of warranties in the sale contract. We acted as expert advisors in these proceedings and calculated the consequential losses. In 2008 our clients were awarded £8.1 million in damages in a landmark case where they were able to claim on the assets frozen as a result of the criminal trial.

Criminal

We have undertaken a wide variety of cases where we have acted as financial experts both for the prosecution and for the defence. Our case file goes right back to the early 1990's when Monica Bond was a partner at Grant Thornton.

Search and seizure in drugs proceeds confiscation

Monica Bond acted for the police as an expert where premises were being raided to seize and freeze the assets of suspected drugs traffickers. Re: Operation F

Criminal fraud

Monica Bond acted in part of the case against directors of BCCI where clients had been defrauded of a substantial shipment of oil and the proceeds laundered through BCCI Re- AG

Tracing the funding of arms smuggling

Monica Bond was instructed by Times Newspapers to assist in an investigative article on arms smuggling to Croatia in the 1990's and the network of companies used to funnel the proceeds of crime to the purchasing operation Re - ZT

Theft

The firm has been frequently instructed where employees are suspected of theft. Typically these case are where we act for the defence when an employer has detected theft but weaknesses in their systems mean that it is unclear who is the thief and how much has actually been stolen. Re - LD

Money Laundering

The firm has handled a wide variety of money laundering prosecutions. We have particularly specialised in an area called "cuckoo smurfing" where an innocent associate of a criminal is persuaded by deception and a close personal relationship to, unwittingly, handle the proceeds of crime. Re - F

Confiscation Hearings

We have been instructed on quite a few occasions in relation to criminal confiscation hearings. In 2004 we acted for the defence in the DTI's largest criminal fraud confiscation hearing Re - GS

Forgery / Proceeds of Crime

In 2009 we were instructed in a criminal defence where the client was accused of being involved a conspiracy to defraud the Home Office arising from the issuance of false educational certificates. Re -RS

Unlawful money lending

We were instructed to act for the defence of a person accused of breaching the Consumer Credit Act by entering into unregulated money lending schemes. Re - IW 

Corporate Governance / Regulatory Compliance – Insurance Sector

 

We were instructed by solicitors to review the corporate governance structure and regulatory permissions for a London based subsidiary of a major Japanese insurance company. This company was seeking to expand its UK business and needed a complete “bottom-up” review of its activities as new Japanese management was being appointed. Re K

 

Corporate governance / regulatory compliance – brokerage firm

 

We were instructed by solicitors acting for a US investment brokerage wanting to set-up a UK operation. We were asked to review their procedures and assist them in applying for FSA permissions – Re FNYS

Due Diligence

Review of investment scheme proposal:

We were contacted by an Englishman resident in France. He was considering making an investment into an investment scheme but had some doubts. He asked us to review the scheme and identify the risks. We reviewed the documentation he had supplied and established that it was almost certainly a fraudulent investment scheme of a type we had encountered in our fraud investigations. Re CB


Due diligence prior to sale of business:

We were asked to conduct due diligence on the potential acquirer of a business involved in providing health care sub-contract services. The anticipated sale contract included “earn out” provisions and the client wished to be sure that the acquirer was a solid business with a reasonable likelihood of making a success from the acquisition. The sale proceeded through to completion successfully some five years ago and our client achieved his earn-out expectations. Re MO


Due Diligence on an under-performing acquisition:

We were asked to investigate the performance of a specialist travel agency which had been acquired by our client. The travel agents results were far lower than an anticipated and it was suspected that the previous owner who was still an employee was diverting business. Our investigations showed that this was almost certain and the client was able to recover sums due to breaches of warranties. Re TDA

Financial Aspects of Divorce

Determining the true ownership of assets claimed as matrimonial assets in a divorce   
                                                                   
Our client and his wife were owners of a hotel management company that had invested in a number of hotels in Egypt in the early 1990's. For various reasons the Egyptian government had sequestrated the hotels and despite numerous legal actions our client had been unable to obtain compensation. In due course he made a claim against the Egyptian Government in the International Court for the Settlement of Investment Disputes and after several years of arbitration obtained a judgement to the value of $21 million. Our clients  company distributed a substantial part of this settlement to joint venture parties who claimed that they had provided the bulk of the funding, both of the investment and the subsequent litigation. The wife claimed that no such JV parties existed and for security reasons    they refused to give evidence or reveal their names. We were instructed to demonstrate that our client never had sufficient funds to meet the substantial investment or the subsequent legal actions Re: F&F                                                                                                                        

Locating assets hidden in a divorce

Our client was the wife in the proceedings and discovered at the time of divorce that her husband had been leading a double life. During the course of investigations it was discovered that he had secretly acquired extremely valuable property but had hidden its ownership. We were retained to prove he owned the property and demonstrate that because it comprised of several inter-linked properties its true value was substantially higher than the value of the individual components Re: G

Anti Fraud

Frauds perpetrated on individuals:

♦ Our client was a retired airline pilot who invested several hundred thousand pounds into a project introduced to him by a friend of his brother, Mr A. In the scheme he invested sums both as equity and loans into a Guernsey based company that was developing the patent for a special timber framed type of roofing. The application for the patent was already well developed and our client was to become co-owner of the company designated to hold the patent. The development continued but gradually ground to halt and contact with Mr A who was developing the patent ceased. We were asked to investigate and we established that behind the company was a complicated network of offshore companies controlled by Mr A and managed by a formation agent in Guernsey. In fact the fraudster had created a variety of other companies all selling the same patent development concept and obtaining funds from multiple sources. Unknown to any of the investors he completed the registration of the patent in his own name and sold it to a multi-national public company who have used the patented construction technique extensively. Mr A cannot now be traced but proceedings have been entered against the formation agent – RE IW


♦ We were instructed by a company director whose company had entered into a franchise contract with a quoted public company. He had invested in the franchise based on forecasts produced by the franchisor. The company, which was in the parcel delivery business, never came close to achieving the forecast profits and soon ran out of operating funds, so that the franchisor had to lend money to the company. Eventually the franchisee failed and the franchisor sought to enforce a personal guarantee on the company director, demanding £350,000. We demonstrated that the forecasts were wrong both in fundamental principles and in base line revenue and costs. The pre-contractual information was so flawed that we believed that a successful civil fraud prosecution could be launched.  After extensive negotiation not only was the £350,000 demand withdrawn but we obtained £225,000 of damages in an out of court settlement. Re SW

♦ We were instructed by UK solicitors to assist their client, Lord G, who had been defrauded of £10 million in family trust assets by what is known as an advanced fee fraud combined with a  Ponzi  scheme. We provided expert advice in obtaining a Freezing Order and Search Order against the alleged fraudster. By this means the client recovered all his money that was frozen in multiple offshore bank accounts. This recovery was achieved within six weeks of instruction. – Re Lord G

♦ We were instructed by UK solicitors acting for a Canadian client who had been defrauded of several million pounds in an Advanced Fee fraud perpetrated by individuals based in the UK. We provided expert advice in obtaining a Freezing Order and Search Order against the alleged fraudster. The Search Order was conducted at multiple UK locations and resulted in a full recovery. The case continued with a professional negligence claim against an accountant where we also gave expert advice that led to a successful out of court settlement. – Re H

Frauds within commercial organisations outside the regulated sector

♦ Our clients had acquired an engineering company, E Limited, based on the Slough Estate. The company’s largest client was Mars plc and E Limited provided on-site engineering support. Our clients had invested all their funds in acquiring this long established business but soon realised that buyers from Mars were expecting bribes for the placing of new purchase orders. We met with our clients, who explained that they had no funds to seek a recovery so we helped to guide them as to how to establish the extent of the fraud. Over a two year period, with our guidance, they untangled a web of corruption and fraud stretching back at least 7 years and probably longer. We tried to assist them by introducing them to solicitors in the hope of arranging a conditional fee arrangement for a civil recovery but this was unsuccessful. They took the matter to the police and after a further 18 months participated in a successful criminal prosecution of the previous owners of E Limited and buyers at Mars. The previous owners received custodial sentences of in excess of 7 years. The judge at the criminal trial was so impressed by our clients that she deferred criminal asset confiscation proceedings whilst our clients could pursue civil recovery. Armed with the criminal judgement we were able to assist our clients in obtaining success based fee arrangements with both solicitor and counsel, with ourselves acting as expert advisors and preparing the financial evidence and consequential loss claims. In 2008 our client won £8.3million in damages against the assets already frozen as a result of the criminal prosecution. – Re E Limited 

♦ Our client had acquired a travel agency specialising in canal and river holidays. The bookings were well below those anticipated and our client asked us to investigate whether there was evidence to suggest that new bookings were being diverted fraudulently to a company under the control of the previous owner. Strong evidence was produced that indicated that this was indeed the case and our client reached a settlement with the previous owner – Re TDA

♦ We were asked to investigate the employee of a company that managed a national team of gas appliance engineers. It had been discovered that the employee had formed a company with a very similar name as his employer and it was assumed that this may indicate an employee fraud. We investigated whether there was evidence of orders being diverted and whether the employee, who was absent on long-term sick leave, was actually illicitly working. Sufficient evidence was gathered so as to enable our client to dismiss the employee and change its own internal systems so as to remove the vulnerabilities revealed by the case. Re Co

Frauds perpetrated on banks and other financial service organisations

♦ Our client was a major US Bank with a recently acquired banking subsidiary in Prague. Their risk control department asked us to join them as part of a fraud investigation team, urgently trying to uncover a $6.5 million fraud on the banks foreign exchange account. We established that the Head of IT had been systematically transferring foreign exchange differences via various internal accounts and then settling the control differences by transfers to his own bank accounts elsewhere. The frauds had taken place over a three year period and the IT manager had used the money to buy property, jewellery, motor cycles and other high value items. The IT manager was convicted in a Czech court and virtually all the stolen money was recovered. This case was converted into a film by the client and then used in compliance training worldwide. Re GEC.

 

♦ We were instructed by liquidators to investigate the activities of an insurance group operating over many years in the UK and Gibraltar. We uncovered a fraud on bondholders, whose origins were in the early 1990’s but had been hidden by accounting manipulation so that the full extent of the fraud was not revealed until 2005, after the death of the Chairman. The fraud involved the issuing of bonds on the Irish stock market in 1999 and then using the proceeds to repay bondholders where the assets supporting the original issue had declined to a virtually nil value. This is a type of Ponzi fraud and our report has been used as a basis for taking action against the deceased’s estate and various professional advisers. The claims amount to many millions of pounds – Re EAG


Frauds within central government agencies
 

♦ We were instructed by the MOD Police to investigate a suspected fraudulent conspiracy involving bid rigging and other related frauds apparently undertake by a group of small builders and architects involved in repairing and improving MOD properties. The investigation revealed many systems faults in the bidding system and resulted in the removal of those contractors from the MOD approved list. Although major system improvements arose the matter did not move onto a prosecution. Re MOD

Misrepresentation

Our clients had acquired an engineering company, E Limited, based on the Slough Estate. The company’s largest client was Mars plc and E Limited provided on-site engineering support. Our clients had invested all their funds in acquiring this long established business but soon realised that buyers from Mars were expecting bribes for the placing of new purchase orders. We met with our clients, who explained that they had no funds to seek a recovery so we helped to guide them as to how to establish the extent of the fraud. Over a two year period, with our guidance, they untangled a web of corruption and fraud stretching back at least 7 years and probably longer. We tried to assist them by introducing them to solicitors in the hope of arranging a conditional fee arrangement for a civil recovery but this was unsuccessful. They took the matter to the police and after a further 18 months participated in a successful criminal prosecution of the previous owners of E Limited and buyers at Mars. The previous owners received custodial sentences of in excess of 7 years. The judge at the criminal trial was so impressed by our clients that she deferred criminal asset confiscation proceedings whilst our clients could pursue civil recovery. Armed with the criminal judgement we were able to assist our clients in obtaining success based fee arrangements with both solicitor and counsel, with ourselves acting as expert advisors and preparing the financial evidence and consequential loss claims. In 2008 our client won £8.3million in damages against the assets already frozen as a result of the criminal prosecution.  This case centred around fraudulent misrepresentations in the sale contract and the civil recovery was based on the breach of warranties caused by the frauds of the previous owners – Re 4 Eng Limited

Money Laundering

Money Laundering "Cuckoo Smurfing" Prosecution

♦ We were retained to investigate an allegation of "Cuckoo smurfing". In this case, our client was accused of laundering the proceeds of crime committed by the husband of a friend. Our client, during a vulnerable point in her life was befriended by the mother of her daughters school friend and persuaded to allow the proceeds of the sale of a property to be passed through her bank account. The property was actually owned by the husband of this friend and he was convicted of receiving stolen goods in a very substantial car theft prosecution. We were able to demonstrate that the client had obtained no financial benefit from the transaction and the court accepted that she was an innocent victim of deception. Re - F

Money Laundering through a travel agency

♦ We acted as expert advisors to part of the legal team in one of the UK's largest money laundering prosecutions. Our solicitors client was the part owner of a travel agency that had a number of offices in the midlands and north of England. They specialise in arranging trips to the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, but also operated what is called hawala banking which is a type of alternative remittance system that has operated for many years in the Indian sub-continent. In effect the travel agents were acting like a bureau de change and the issue we were asked to address was whether at that time they were in fact part of the regulated financial sector and had to follow the anti-money laundering regulations that were in force at that time. Re A

Anti-Money laundering Systems Review

♦ We were instructed by the London branch of a major Spanish bank to review their anti-money laundering systems and controls.

The review covered the following areas:-

 

  • A review of a substantial number of client files, which revealed weaknesses in Customer Due Diligence

  • create new systems in relation to Customer Due Diligence

  • Create special systems for dealing with Politically Exposed Persons

  • Create new transactional analysis systems

  • Create a Compliance Manual for the branch operation

  • Create an operating manual for the Money Laundering Compliance Officer

  • Create a format for the MLRO's annual report

  • Train staff at all levels including senior management on AML procedures

Re: BS

Professional Negligence

Negligence of Reporting Accountants in a Bond Issue:

In 2008 we undertook a case on behalf of bondholders where there was clear evidence of negligence by the reporting accountants. In fact there was strong evidence that a Ponzi scheme had been operating whereby the proceeds of this particular bond issue were in fact used to bolster the under-recovery of an investment used to support a previous bond issue. The original assets were situated in the USA and had had been acquired in 1992, so the enquiries had to go back over nearly 16 years. The case is continuing. Re: EAG

Negligence of Trustees:

In 2007 we acted in a dispute concerning the beneficial ownership of a Guernsey trust. The ownership of the trust was a disputed asset in matrimonial proceedings and in our expert evidence we were able to demonstrate multiple failures by the Guernsey Trustees in properly accounting for the major trust asset which was property valued at nearly £3 million. Re F&F

Negligence of Accountants and Formation Agents

We acted for a retired airline pilot who had been defrauded of funds invested in a Guernsey based company. The professional negligence claim related to a conflict of interest where by a firm of local chartered accountants were also acting on a hidden basis for one of the other shareholders in our clients investment. Re IW

Negligence of Insolvency Practitioners:

In 2007 we acted as Accounting Experts in a claim arising in part from the Enron failure. Our client had been the owner of a business exploiting Coal bed and Coal Mine Methane in the UK. It had been funded by Enron, who held a fixed and floating charge. Due to Enron's failures it could not continue to fund the development and it sold its interest and assigned the charge. The new charge holder proceeded to appoint administrators who entered into a pre-pack deal whereby the assets were sold to a company controlled by the  former charge holder. Our client claimed that the assets, which were valued at around £200 million, had been sold at undervalue. Eventually the case was settled out of court and substantially based on our valuation of the assets plus demonstration that they had been sold at under-value. Re EOG

Regulatory Investigations

The firm has specialised for nearly ten years in Financial Services Regulation, both from the standpoint of training, systems review, design and implementation as well as the investigation of regulatory breaches.

We commonly work with client and the particular regulatory authority to clarify possible regulatory breaches and to instigate new systems so as to avoid any recurrence.

We have worked in particular with overseas firms that are entering the London market and have conducted reviews and implemented new systems, by way of illustration, for the following organisations:-

A London branch of a major Spanish bank who required a complete review of their compliance to Anti-Money laundering legislation - in that case we created their compliance manuals and systems as well as reviewed high risk client files.

The subsidiary of a major Japanese re-insurance company that needed a review of its compliance systems.

A New York investment brokerage setting up an office in the City needed assistance in ensuring its application to the FSA met all the necessary compliance requirements.

Restraint of Trade

Damages assessment arising from an unfair restraint of trade clause in an employment contract

Our client's had been employees of a recruitment agency and had left to form their own business. Their former employer had obtained a non-competition injunction which prevented them dealing with a large number of former contacts. This was over-ruled on appeal and we were given the task of calculating the damages arising from the lost business. Re E

Damages arising from an unfair restraint of trade arising from clauses in a sub-contract agreement

We were instructed by solicitors to calculated the damages arising from a non-competition clause in a contract between accounting firms that was deemed unfair. Re O

Risk Reviews

Risk Review conducted on a Japanese Re-insurance firm

We were instructed by a Japanese parent company to conduct a full risk review as part of the application by the UK branch for FSA regulatory approval. As a result of the review we produced a complete operational manual for the firm and conducted staff training. This was particularly important for Japanese trained staff who were unfamiliar with UK regulatory procedures Re: K

Anti-money laundering risk review of a bank

We conducted a complete risk review of the London subsidiary of a Spanish bank where the new MLRO was concerned that they may be in breach of AML regulations. The result was our creation of complete operational manuals both for general staff and the MLRO as well as the design of risk alerts and the customer due diligence processes Re Bank S

Fraud risk review at a commodity trader

We were asked to conduct an investigation into the fraud risk controls within a commodity trader who had been subject to fraudulent losses caused by one o their own traders. We produced a comprehensive report highlighting weaknesses and proposing new controls which were subsequently implemented Re FT

Review of a bond traders systems for measuring overnight risk

We were asked by a specialist Japanese bond trader to investigate their system of reconciliations and reporting of overnight exposures and ensure that they were strictly compliant with FSA requirements. Re S 


Risk review of claims within a Prospectus being issued to a small group of experienced investors

We were part of a team of reporting lawyers and accountants who were reviewing the claims within a prospectus for the issuance of shares in a company launching mobile phone software Re A plc