On 4th June 2014 the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) succeeded in securing a further two convictions in what is believed to be the UK’s largest ever “boiler room” fraud case.
The investigation has been on-going since 2007 and has now resulted in the SFO securing nine convictions in total.
The scam defrauded more than 1,000 investors and took over £70 million. This was a 7 year global investigation which saw the SFO work closely with the authorities in Hong Kong, New Zealand and the USA.
A boiler room fraud involves unauthorised brokerages that implement high pressure sales tactics to secure sales of overvalued or even worthless shares in a company. The victims are often unsuspecting vulnerable members of the public. The operations are usually based abroad. In this instance the fraud stemmed from a Madrid-based sales operation. This typically makes it harder for authorities to crack down on the fraudsters.
The successful prosecutions highlight the SFO’s intent to seek cross border cooperation between international law enforcement agencies to investigate serious international frauds. The SFO works with many international bodies and organisations in the fight against cross-border fraud and corruption. These organisations include the Council of Europe, European Judicial Network and the US Department of Justice.
The UK also has various laws relating to business crime which have long arm jurisdiction and therefore only a remote UK connection is required to enable the UK authorities to prosecute for certain offences. Money laundering legislation and the Bribery Act are examples of this.
In a previous Slater and Gordon blog Why is the SFO Requesting £19m Emergency Funding? we highlighted that the SFO was attempting to redefine itself by moving its focus to higher profile, complex fraud, bribery and corruption cases. They sought £19m emergency funding in February this year to enable them to do this.
This most recent prosecution emphasises the time and resources the SFO are willing to commit to investigate and prosecute large scale cases. The Director of the SFO David Green stated that “the convictions mark the culmination of seven years hard work by a dedicated team of investigators, lawyers and accountants at the SFO, and close work with other agencies.”
The Serious Fraud Office are beginning to flex their muscles and show their intent to target large scale fraud and corruption cases.
Our Business Crime Solicitors have over 30 years experience and are acknowledged independently as leaders in the field. We can assist both individuals and businesses if:
- You are asked to assist with an SFO or police investigation
- You think you may be charged with a criminal offence
- You have been charged with an offence by the SFO or other agency.
Slater and Gordon offer a free initial consultation for business crime and regulatory issues and can assist businesses 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Please call freephone 0800 916 9054 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.
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