Author: Syedur Rahman
20 November 2020
2 min read
Syedur Rahman of Rahman Ravelli details the Serious Fraud Office’s securing of assets with connections to the Operation Car Wash scandal.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) secured assets worth almost £1.2 million from a Brazilian national implicated in the country’s huge corruption scandal.
The agency secured £1,198,424.78 from Julio Faerman, the owner of a £4.25 million apartment in West London that the SFO suspected was purchased in part with the funds generated by its owner’s criminal conduct.
Faerman was believed to be involved in the large-scale and systematic use of bribery to win contracts from the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras. The corruption was uncovered by the ongoing Operation Car Wash investigation.
While under investigation by Brazilian prosecutors, Faerman admitted paying bribes to win contracts for the Dutch company SBM Offshore NV, for whom he acted as an agent. He is subject to a co-operation agreement with Brazilian authorities, having paid a settlement of approximately US$54 million.
Following Faerman’s proceedings in Brazil, the SFO opened its own civil recovery investigation into the UK assets it suspected were purchased with the proceeds of his criminal conduct. The SFO’s investigation focused on the apartment and Swiss bank accounts and offshore companies that were believed to have part-funded the purchase of the West London property. The investigation suggested that these accounts had received payments gained by Faerman while he had worked as an agent for SBM Offshore NV in Brazil.
In January 2019, the SFO secured a property freezing order on the apartment, and a disclosure order in order to enable the agency to trace commissions paid to Faerman. Faerman’s application to discharge this order in June 2020 was dismissed in the High Court by Mrs Justice Cutts CDE, who judged there was a clear and compelling public interest in maintaining the disclosure order.
The SFO had planned to bring a civil recovery claim against Faerman in respect of the property. But it has now agreed a settlement with him, under which the property freezing order and disclosure order relating to the apartment will remain in place until he pays the settlement amount of £1,198,424.78 and the SFO’s £57,000 in costs.
As a case, this is an example of the wide reach that the SFO has. There is a mutual legal assistance treaty between the UK and Brazil, which was signed on 7th April 2005. In addition, it was announced on January 23, 2018 that the SFO and Brazil’s Office of the Prosecutor General (PGR) had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen international cooperation and exchange of information between the two agencies in fraud, corruption and other white-collar crime investigations.
Syedur Rahman is known for his in-depth experience of serious fraud, white-collar crime and serious crime cases, as well as his expertise in worldwide asset tracing and recovery, civil recovery, cryptocurrency and high-stakes commercial disputes.