A TOP fraud solicitor today warned that many financial crime suspects lose their assets unfairly before any guilt has been proven.
But according to Aziz Rahman, founder of fraud and business crime specialists Rahman Ravelli Solicitors, many accused could hold on to their wealth with the right legal representation.
Mr Rahman says that many people investigated for fraud have Restraint Orders issued against them before they are convicted or even charged.
Under a Restraint Order, the authorities can freeze the personal and business assets of someone suspected of criminal activity. The person is then unable to access their finances, even to run their businesses, cover personal outgoings or pay legal expenses.
But Mr Rahman, who handles national and international cases, believes this problem could be avoided if a person chooses a solicitor who is an expert in this legal area.
He said: "Many people are frightened when they learn that their assets are becoming the subject of a Restraining Order. They often don't know where to turn.
"But if they take the time to find the right solicitor, things can be made much better for them. They have to find a solicitor who is a specialist in this area who will take a proactive and energetic approach to challenging the Order, as that is the only way a person will get their assets unfrozen.
"A solicitor can make representations to have the Order discharged - so that a client gets all their assets back – or at least varied, so they can gain access to some of their funds.
"The Restraint Order is a complex and specialist area of the law that can easily scare anyone facing one. But too often authorities issue a Restraint Order in haste - and that means there is plenty of scope for an expert solicitor to challenge it.
"With the right legal representation, a person can gain access to their assets again. Unfortunately, not every person who is the subject of an Order realises this.
"In recent months, we have taken over a number of big, multi-million pound cases where clients have been left struggling because they have left it late to appoint solicitors with expertise in challenging Restraint Orders.
"That should not be happening to anyone. No one should be facing the loss of what they own before they have been convicted or, in many cases, charged. We are happy to do things for free initially as it is vitally important that people get the right legal representation as soon as possible because things can move quickly."
Mr Rahman says that clients facing a Restraint Order need to either:
- Find a solicitor that will work initially on a pro bono basis for them.
- Gain Legal Aid to cover their legal costs.
- Find someone to cover their legal costs until the Order is overturned.