We are often instructed by solicitors and prosecuting authorities in criminal matters as a full understanding of the accountancy evidence can have a significant bearing on the assessment of the strength of the prosecution evidence. We provide expert accounting evidence where individuals are subject to prosecution for fraud and white collar crime, focusing on the following three areas:
- consideration of the key issues and giving input into case strategy;
- assessment of the financial evidence; and
- preparation of reports and appearing as expert witness in Court.
Proceeds of crime
Increasingly, courts are hearing cases concerning confiscation of assets of a defendant following his conviction, in which the defendant is said to have a “criminal lifestyle”. The purpose of confiscation proceedings is to deprive the defendant of the financial benefit that he has obtained from criminal conduct.
In recent years we have developed a particular expertise in dealing with the accounting aspects raised in confiscation proceedings, including dealing with the benefit and available asset figures calculated within Section 16 Statements prepared by various prosecuting authorities.
We act for both defendants and prosecuting authorities.
Recent cases include:
Acting on behalf of the owner of a canal-boat business accused of fraudulent trading. The business collapsed leaving significant liabilities to customers. Relying on the limited contemporaneous electronic financial records maintained and the bank statements, we were able to reconstruct the accounts of the business at various fixed points in time. This helped the Court determine the cause and, perhaps more importantly, the timing of the demise of the business. We were was also asked to provide general advice on the responsibilities of directors to maintain accounting records, and their obligation to regularly review the financial position and prospective trading performance of a business to protect the interests of creditors.
Acting on behalf of a director and part-owner of a window glazing business, convicted of aggressive commercial practices. The prosecution quantified the defendant’s benefit from criminal conduct by reference to the value of the company’s sales. Following detailed analysis of the accounts and bank statements, we were able to show that the vast majority of the trade passing through the business was legitimate – and the benefit figure was instead agreed based on an allocation of the defendant’s remuneration.
Acting on behalf of a metropolitan police force to analyse and review the bank statements of members of an organised crime group convicted of the distribution of controlled drugs, with a view to identifying income from criminal sources. We arranged for the bank statements to be converted into Excel, to facilitate classification and analysis. We were able to demonstrate that significant credits into the accounts could not be readily explained, and that their lifestyle expenditure was inconsistent with their legitimate trading income.