Financial Crime

Working with a legal team that have insight

At Bright Line Law our focus is on financial crime. Broadly, the term denotes the generation and misuse of money or other property in connection with alleged criminal conduct. We specialise in advising and representing individuals, corporates and public organisations of all sizes dealing with matters such as fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, bribery and corruption, breach of economic sanctions, market abuse and the implications of proceeds of crime legislation.

The last decade in the UK has seen heightened scrutiny of alleged financial wrongdoing which has led to change in the law and the approach to investigation. A suite of new criminal offences has been introduced spanning from new bribery offences to new corporate ‘failure to prevent’ criminal provisions. Additionally, there is heightened scrutiny of money laundering in the political and public sphere. The dialogue has shifted to include an awareness of the vulnerabilities of professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, estate agents and dealers in high value goods, to money laundering. In the world of corporate investigation, a ‘self-reporting’ route has opened up and the decision to do so requires careful judgment. A raft of ancillary measures can also be deployed at any stage of a criminal investigation, including pre-investigation. These include property freezes, search warrants, requests for interview and service of orders mandating the provision of information on third parties.

The cases we deal with at Bright Line Law may be brought by the National Crime Agency (NCA), Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or private prosecutors. Our work also has an international dimension and we have advised and represented individuals in dealings with the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Pre-charge or where robust civil proceeds of crime powers, such as account or cash freezing, are used to combat what is, in essence, an underlying criminal allegation, Bright Line Law is well placed to deal with the full range of police forces including City of London Police and Metropolitan Police.

In select cases, we have also worked in close partnership with specialist law firms in other jurisdictions with carriage of cases in which an issue of English criminal law arises or where valuable assistance can be drawn from understanding the position under money laundering, bribery or fraud laws in force in England & Wales.

We pride ourselves on a deep understanding of the criminal process whether that is at the stage of an internal investigation into possible criminal conduct, decision to self-report, receipt of an order to provide information, first engagement with the authorities or criminal charge. We also appreciate the profound impact that involvement in criminal proceedings can have on a company, individual and those around them whether they are employees, potential business partners, investors or family members. In certain cases we are particularly mindful of the impact on corporate reputation and public perception. We have established relationships with those expert in the area of corporate reputation and can help to manage the wider implications of involvement in criminal proceedings.

Working with Bright Line Law
Bright Line Law specialises in financial crime disputes. Our team regularly provide advice and representation to individuals, SMEs and large corporate clients. Our use of strategy, subject knowledge and advocacy has earned us a reputation for excellence in the legal profession and industry. We appreciate that the difficulty is in understanding exactly how the law translates into daily activities, and what behaviour will or will not attract the attention of the authorities. We achieve the best results for our clients by combining our deep understanding of complex laws with successful navigation of criminal and civil procedure. Our unique set-up as a barrister law firm means we can work with clients to deliver a tailored service, using our financial crime expertise in the most effective way. We are conscious of the seriousness of allegations of financial crime and we consider the repercussions throughout our work.

Bright Line Law can be instructed directly by a client of any size or by a law firm at any stage of the process. Without exception, our approach is always to talk to our client and understand their concerns and objectives. Careful written advice is provided at the beginning, which will always include an assessment of the evidence gathered to date in support of a financial crime allegation or an analysis of the suspicions articulated by the authorities and identified inconsistencies or weaknesses. We draw on our experience of dealing with investigators and prosecutors and look at matters in the round so that at the very beginning our clients know what the inconsistencies, strengths and weaknesses of the investigation or case is. If the case proceeds, we anticipate the road ahead and advise carefully along the way.

At all times, our clients are helped to understand what their options are and the implications of each. We believe that this is a vital component of any successful strategy to be deployed in criminal proceedings if they have commenced or designed to robustly address matters before they develop further into a criminal charge. We assist our client to make the decision that is right for them and in their best interests. Every step of the way, we rely on our extensive experience and careful preparation to navigate the process, anticipate the next steps and handle all dealings with the authorities. This includes where the authorities have requested that an individual participate in an interview. Bright Line Law is able to advise and represent clients in all manner of interviews including at police station interviews if the need arises.

Regulatory investigations
Our team can advise upon all stages of a regulatory investigation and can liaise with financial regulators on your behalf. Of particular concern to many regulators are instances of insider dealing in financial services, the making of misleading statements or employing the use of promotions of illegal financial products. Such behaviour can attract demands for disclosure of documentation and result in criminal proceedings.

We are often instructed by both corporate and individual clients to manage their dealings with regulators, including demands for information and the sensitive handling of responses to allegations following a regulatory investigation.

Market abuse
The integrity of the financial system is of immense importance to the UK economy. Suspected instances of attempts to undermine the strength of financial markets or to exploit weaknesses for profit are taken seriously. Such acts could result in substantial fines being issued to commercial actors or custodial sentences accompanied by an unlimited fine for individuals.

Our team have amassed considerable experience of advising both corporate and individual clients that are facing allegations of financial markets abuse. We conduct an exacting review of the evidence against our clients and routinely challenge the basis for allegations being made. We also explore opportunities to minimise the potential sanction that could be issued against our client, and will liaise with interested parties while keeping our clients fully appraised of the options available to them.

Contact
If you have questions about how financial laws operate in the commercial context, or are in need of specialist advice or representation, please contact us by telephone on +44 (0)20 3709 9470.Email