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Richard Cornthwaite

Position(s)  Director , Solicitor

Area(s) of Practice  Business Defence , Criminal Defence

Location(s)  Manchester

Phone   0161 804 8469


Richard Cornthwaite

Richard Cornthwaite is a director at Cartwright King who has been ranked as one of the country’s leading fraud and regulatory solicitors for almost 20 years, commended by the Chambers UK Legal Directory for his ‘breadth of experience’ and his ‘well-considered, well-prepared advice’.

Richard specialises in defending criminal fraud and regulatory prosecutions and has acted for some of the largest and most high-profile cases ever prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office.

Richard has extensive experience of fraud and business crime matters and regularly defends investigations and prosecutions brought by a plethora of government agencies, including the Serious Fraud Office, the Crown Prosecution Service, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, the Financial Services Authority and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. Richard also handles ancillary litigation, including restraint, confiscation and asset recovery in the High Court. In addition, he has frequently advised professionals and directors who are the subject of regulatory investigation, including Law Society disciplinary proceedings.

Unflappable under pressure and lauded for his keen judgment and air of authority, Richard is able to grasp and distil the central issues in a case quickly and has a reputation of providing advice which is both logical and practical, whilst at all times putting clients at their ease.

Richard has been involved in many high-profile prosecutions over the last 20 years, including Guinness, Brent Walker, Richmond Oil and Gas and Operation Holbein. Lately Richard led the defence in the first SFO prosecution arising from the investigation into alleged manipulation of the LIBOR benchmark rate. The case was the largest and the most complex yet prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office.

Richard was also one of the founding members of the Legal Services Commission’s Fraud Panel.

Richard's Chambers and Partners LogoLegal 500 Logo


"‘Knows this area of law inside out and is able to direct his considerable experience into the day-to-day running of his cases." Legal 500 2018

"The 'very smart' Richard Cornthwaite heads the fraud team and is a 'clever tactician who quickly detects any weaknesses in the prosecution case.'" Legal 500 2018

"Someone who always does the best for his clients. He is experienced, pragmatic and sensitive"
Chambers UK - A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession 2016

"Richard Cornthwaite's depth of knowledge is outstanding"
Chambers UK - A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession 2015

Richard Cornthwaite brings 22 years of partner-level experience to criminal fraud work, and is regarded as "a good, steady pair of hands"
Chambers UK – A Client’s Guide to the UK Legal Profession 2013

Richard Cornthwaite acts in high-stakes matters such as SFO and HMRC prosecutions, including substantial defence work.
Chambers UK – A Client’s Guide to the UK Legal Profession 2012

Richard Cornthwaite “is commended for his defence of SFO prosecutions.
Chambers UK – A Client’s Guide to the UK Legal Profession 2011

Richard Cornthwaite “is applauded for his well-considered, well-prepared advice”
Chambers UK – A Client’s Guide to the UK Legal Profession 2010

Richard Cornthwaite’s “breadth of experience gives him an air of authority that reassures even the most anxious client.
Chambers UK – A Client’s Guide to the UK Legal Profession 2009

Leading Cases

LIBOR: Richard leads the team that represents  the lead defendant in the SFO’s first prosecution in respect of the manipulation of the LIBOR benchmark interest rate.

Operation Holbein: Successfully defended an individual 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.

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 £½  million.

R v Wallace Duncan Smith: Represented Mr. Smith, accused of fraudulent trading and obtaining property by deception in a £90Million 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 M and others: 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 around 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 a 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: Successfully represented a suspect interviewed under caution but not charged in this major Serious Fraud Office Prosecution.
Butte Mining: Acted for a 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. 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 suspect 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. 

Bribery and Corruption:

Represented the main defendant in R v R and others, (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 senior executive interviewed under caution but not subsequently charged in the investigation into and prosecution of Alstom PLC

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.




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