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The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has joined the international probe into alleged money laundering involving Malaysian state investment firm 1MDB.

30 September 2015

According to newspaper reports, the SFO is examining evidence publicised by the editor of a whistleblowing website.

SFO interests comes after authorities in Switzerland froze millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts in relation to a money laundering investigation into two 1MDB executives. Hong Kong police are also investigating the origins of more US$250 million in accounts allegedly linked to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who has denied wrongdoing.

If anyone linked to the alleged wrongdoing is to prove their innocence, they will need a specialist legal team capable of mounting a strong, proactive defence using all evidence available – including that material not yet disclosed by the authorities. Rahman Ravelli’s years of experience of such cases allows us to say confidently that disclosure, use of expert witnesses and thinking outside the box are all necessary attributes when creating a strong defence case.

Almost a third (32%) of all cases of fraud committed in the UK in the first half of 2015 were committed by employees of the victims.

According to BDO’s Fraudtrack report, this employee fraud cost firms and organisations more than £46m – 6% of the overall total lost to fraud in the UK in that period.

The second biggest sector of fraud is investment fraud (23%), according to BDO, followed by third-party fraud (20%); which includes fraud by suppliers and customers. BDO puts the total amount lost to fraud in the first half of 2015 at £798M – a tenth more than the figure for the same period in 2014.

Having advised companies and organisations of all sizes on anti-fraud measures, it is clear to us that much of the fraud that has been reported could have been prevented with a considered examination of the potential for wrongdoing.

David Green, head of the Serious Fraud Office, has warned that it is to go after the “enablers” of economic crime — the lawyers, accountants and other advisers who help criminals.

He also claimed that more bankers would be brought to justice regarding the rigging of interest rates; with more charges likely in autumn.

The comments were made in Green’s first public speech since former UBS and Citigroup trader Tom Hayes was convicted for manipulating Libor and sentenced to 13 years in jail. He was addressing police, lawyers and regulators at the Cambridge Economic Crime Symposium at Jesus College, Cambridge University.

At Rahman Ravelli, we appreciate that the comments make for good soundbites. But our extensive experience of serious fraud cases – and of successfully defending clients against the SFO - leads us to believe that Mr Green’s agency has a long way to go to turn his words into deeds.

U.K. prosecutors may target traders linked to the rigging of euro interest-rate benchmarks.

The SFO has interviewed a number of former bankers in connection with manipulating the euro interbank offered rate - Euribor. According to reports, it plans to send out a wave of requisitions -orders for a person to attend court to face charges - to individuals before October.

SFO Director David Green has said more charges in the investigation "are likely this autumn." Having mounted successful defences in cases brought by the SFO, we at Rahman Ravelli firmly believe that bringing charges is only ever one small part of a much larger legal jigsaw. And if the SFO cannot put all the pieces together it will struggle to secure convictions; no matter how tough it talks.


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