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Serious Fraud Office Investigations

Matters investigated by the Serious Fraud Office represent the cutting edge of English criminal law. Cartwright King has acted, and continues to act, for clients at every stage of the most complex and high profile SFO Investigations and other investigative bodies.

Cases handled by our lawyers include allegations of Benchmark Interest Rate and Market Manipulation, Cartel activity, Insider Trading, Bribery and Corruption, and Misrepresentation to the Stock Exchange.

Our Experience:

Fraud and White Collar Crime

  • LIBOR - Cartwright King represented the lead defendant in the SFO’s first prosecution in respect of the manipulation of the LIBOR benchmark interest rate.
  • REPO rate manipulation- We represent a former senior employee accused of conspiring to manipulate the REPO benchmark rate.
  • Operation Holbein – Successfully defended a corporate body and individuals in what was, at the time, the largest and most complex case ever prosecuted by the SFO. It involved alleged price-fixing in the Pharmaceutical Industry. The indictment was quashed in the House of Lords. The Court ruled that the activity complained did not constitute a criminal offence at the relevant time.
  • R v JD, R v F and R v PD (Polly Peck) – we represented a number of individuals in proceedings arising from the collapse of Asil Nadir’s Polly Peck business empire. These included JD, an offshore based financial advisor to Mr Nadir, F, who we successfully helped appeal a conviction for money laundering and PD, who was accused of assisting Mr Nadir when he absconded to Northern Cyprus.
  • SFO v B – Successfully advised in relation to an SFO investigation into an AIM stock market flotation. The three year investigation was dropped by the SFO with no charges brought. The case involved a successful challenge to the pre charge restraint order that the Crown had obtained against our client.
  • R v C (Hungarian International Bank). Acted for the Deputy Director of Operations of the Hungarian International Bank in London who conspired to defraud the bank of £500 000.
  • R v Wallace Duncan Smith – represented Mr Smith, accused of fraudulent trading and obtaining property by deception in a £90 000 000 banking fraud relating to the collapse of the Wallace Smith Trust Company
  • R v P (Alpine Double Glazing) acted for the chairman of Alpine Double Glazing in the SFO investigations and prosecutions following that company’s collapse.
  • R v de Mendonca – represented a former London stockbroker convicted of conspiring to defraud Priest Marians Holdings by assisting in the sale of a large property on Shaftesbury Avenue owned by Priest Marians to a company which was owned by a co-defendant.
  • R v Mariuszak – Successfully acted in this trial relating to allegations of money laundering centred upon the Mezuzah Incorporated high yield investment fraud. Our client, who was alleged to be “the architect of the fraud” was acquitted at the conclusion of the prosecution case when the Court ruled that   the defendants had no case to answer.
  • Richmond Oil & Gas - Acted for the main defendant in relation to a conspiracy to defraud surrounding the creation of a false market surrounding a £21 million Offer for Sale of shares in Richmond Oil & Gas plc.
  • The Arrows Plc – Represented the lead defendant in this major Serious Fraud Office Prosecution.
  • Butte Mining – Acted for the principal defendant in one of the UK’s longest running fraud actions following a 5 year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.
  • R v A (Brent Walker) – Acted for the former Finance Director of Brent Walker in the SFO’s prosecution of Brent Walker. The allegation was that   the firm’s directors inflated profits at the film division of the company by £19.3m in an effort to lure investors. It has been said that the Brent Walker fraud trial set a new high water mark in costs and complexity.
  • R v K (TC Coombs) – Successfully represented a defendant in the SFO prosecution of the directors of TC Coombs who were accused of deceiving regulators in respect of the financial strength of their firm. The trial collapsed and all defendants were acquitted.
  • Aveling Barford – Represented a defendant in the SFO’s prosecution of four individuals accused of defrauding the pension fund of engineering firm Aveling Barford
  • Successfully represented a defendant in the SFO’s prosecution of the directors of Therm-A-Stor for Fraudulent Trading arising from the collapse of the company in 1990. The trial collapsed after 36 days of evidence and all defendants were acquitted.
  • R v R - Successfully acted for a defendant in the SFO’s investigation into Gooda Walker Run Off Limited, underwriters at Lloyds of London whose executives were accused of misrepresenting the profits of insurance syndicates managed by the firm. The investigation was dropped and no charges were brought.
  • Eagle Trust- successfully represented a defendant in the ten month trial of this SFO prosecution which centred on allegations that the directors of Eagle Trust had stolen funds from the business in order to meet undertakings they had given to purchase shares issued by the company as part of a takeover of Samuelson, a film and lighting equipment company.
  • R v H - Operation Steamroller- believed to be the largest boiler room fraud ever pursued by a UK authority in which sales entities operating from Madrid sold shares in US-listed companies on a fraudulent basis. Investors in the companies bought shares that had restrictions on their resale for a 12 month period. When the investors came to sell the shares after the expiry of this period, they often found that they were unable to do so as they were worthless, and that the shares were in shell companies or companies that were not operating at all.

Bribery and Corruption:

  • Our lawyers successfully represented a senior executive interviewed under caution but not subsequently charged in the investigation into and prosecution of Alstom PLC.
  • Our lawyers represented the Managing Director of an engineering company accused of offering bribes to a senior Exxon engineer in what was said to be one of the most important Serious Fraud Office investigations of the 1990s, relating to  an “extraordinary network of corruption in the engineering industry.”
  • Represented a defendant in R v Rybak & Ors, (2012) a prosecution of 5 defendants centred around allegations of  corruption relating to high value engineering contracts in the oil and gas industry in Iran, Egypt, Russia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
  • Successfully represented a Vice President of BAE in the investigation into allegations of corruption relating to the sale of radar equipment in Tanzania.
  • Successfully represented a suspect in the investigation into bribery and corruption in the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • Represented a defendant in the Innospec prosecution; this matter related to corrupt payments to governments in Indonesia and Iraq, to ensure that sales of a harmful chemical fuel additive Tetraethyl Lead would continue.
  • Rolls Royce: We represent a senior former employee of Rolls Royce in this ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption overseas.  

Our Business Crime team is large, highly regarded and able to provide high quality cover wherever you are based. The UK’s leading legal services directories, the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners rate our team highly across the jurisdiction:

We are ranked as a Tier One fraud firm by the Legal 500 in both the North West where we are said to be “pre-eminent in serious fraud matters”, the East and West Midlands and we are recommended for our presence in both Yorkshire and Humberside and London where we “offer an outstanding level of service”.

Chambers & Partners rank Cartwright King in Band One for Financial Crime in the regions and also ranks us highly in London. According to Chambers our strengths are “communication, you are always kept in the loop, they give a complete synopsis of what’s going on and how the prosecution views the matter and you are always part of the team.” 

Individually, Head of Business Crime Sundeep Soor and the “simply outstanding” Lesley Burrows are rated as “elite leading lawyers” whilst the “highly regarded,” Andrew Cant and “rising star” Gary Broadfield are also recommended.

Laura Pinkney is praised for her “excellent judgment” and senior team members John Allchin and John Speight are also highly rated. 

Mark Fowler has a “masterful grasp of the detail and the ability to retain complex information”. 

Mark Hopwell and Richard Cornthwaite whose “depth of knowledge and judgment are outstanding” are also recommended. 

Finding a team of lawyers with this experience is rare, but at Cartwright King we have a team on hand with the expertise to defend your rights and to assist you wherever you may be based in the UK or abroad.

Representation during investigations

The Serious Fraud Office investigates only the largest and most complex allegations of Fraud. As a result, it routinely operates on the boundaries of the existing criminal law and often its prosecutions break new ground in the field.

It is important to obtain expert legal advice as early as possible. It is in the investigation stage where the attitudes of the investigators are yet to crystalise that important questions might be resolved in favour of the suspect and the shape of the overall investigation influenced to their advantage. That SFO investigations can have a novel or complicated factual background can be an advantage; such cases exist in the “grey areas” of the law, as yet undeveloped and this often provides the defence with the opportunity to argue that the conduct complained of is insufficient to constitute a criminal offence.

We have successfully acted for a number of clients under investigation by the SFO; we regularly assist clients at interviews under caution, we have attended at raids where warrants to enter premises and seize evidential material have been executed and we have successfully challenged restraint orders imposed to freeze our clients’ assets.

The nature of the SFO’s work ensures that it has been given additional, wide ranging investigative powers. This in turn requires specialist knowledge on the part of defence solicitors:

Representation post charge

If the case should continue to charge we will robustly defend your interests in the pre trial litigation and legal argument and, if necessary, at trial itself.

Our solicitors have experience of cases conducted under the special case management regime for those matters which are designated as “Serious and Complex” by the Court. This regime, instituted in only the largest and most complex prosecutions provides for, amongst other things, “interlocutory appeal,” that is of a route of appeal to the Court of Appeal in relation to rulings on points of law made by the trial Judge before the start of the trial.

Finally, should convictions occur, our lawyers will continue to protect your position in any asset forfeiture and confiscation proceedings that may result.

Free Initial Consultation

In any matter where specialist advice is needed, speed is of the essence. The sooner our lawyers can advise you, the better we can protect your position and that of your business. We offer a free initial consultation so that you can have access to expert advice without fear of the cost. Please call 0161 833 1411 or email and we’ll call you back.

If you are an individual who has received a notice under s2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987, or you have been arrested or you believe that you may be under investigation and are at risk of arrest in a Serious Fraud Office Investigation, call us immediately.

If you are a company director and have discovered that your company or its employees may have committed offences that put the business at risk of an SFO investigation, we can assist you in the process of self reporting and negotiating a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, or we can simply help you fight any future investigation. Call us to discuss which strategy might be the best way forward for your business.

Why Choose Cartwright King

We are one of the largest criminal defence firms in the country. We can represent you no matter where you are based in England & Wales and the experience that we have in-house, is unrivalled. Where a case demands it we also have access to a network of expert counsel and other specialist professionals.

Serious Fraud Office investigations are invariably complex and highly technical in nature. In many instances they involve conduct that takes place outside of England & Wales and thus require knowledge of multi-jurisdictional issues such as Extradition law and the process by which mutual legal assistance can be claimed. You must only instruct expert solicitors who possess the requisite knowledge to conduct your case. Cartwright King possess vast experience in defending all types of criminal cases, including the biggest and most complex fraud and corruption matters prosecuted in the UK;  our team has the forensic skills and experience needed to defend difficult cases aggressively and successfully.

We’ll explain everything to you in straightforward language and advise you in relation to the law and the facts so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions about the progression of your case.

Our fees

Each case must be considered on its’ merits, but we can offer a range of financial options from competitive hourly rates to an appropriate fixed fee arrangement.

Should a case proceed to charge, Legal Aid may be available to individuals. If appropriate we will apply for Legal Aid on your behalf and explain the process to you.

How to make contact

If you are an individual who has been arrested and interviewed, are on bail or have been charged or believe that you may be under suspicion you should seek expert advice at the earliest opportunity. Criminal Investigations can crystallise at any time, and often through surprise “dawn raids” at a client’s home or place of work. That is why our team are available to defend your interests 24 hours a day, anywhere in the UK or abroad.

Please call 0161 833 1411 or email and we’ll call you back.

We can assist wherever you are based but we have offices in BirminghamBedfordDerbyLeedsLeicesterLondon TempleLutonManchesterMiddlesbroughNorthamptonNottingham and Sheffield.





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