Simon O'Meara is a litigation specialist with an emphasis on complex fraud and serious criminal cases.
Simon’s expertise covers all allegations of fraud, including boiler room fraud, tax fraud, bribery & corruption, cartel activity, MTEC frauds, and insider dealing. He is also adept in the related areas of asset restraint, confiscation and cash seizure. He has defended in cases investigated and prosecuted by authorities as varied as the City of London Police, Economic Crime Directorate, the Flying Squad, Scotland Yard, the NCA, FCA, SFO, HMRC and the Iraq Historic Abuse Tribunal (IHAT). Simon has considerable experience at every stage of the investigation/prosecution process, from representing at the police station to negotiating confiscation.
Simon is extremely client-focused and results driven. He has strong relationships with a number of the country’s leading barristers and defence experts having conducted some of the largest and most high profile cases of their kind in recent years. His background in civil litigation assists further in employing a considered tactical approach to each case,
FRAUD & FINANCIAL CRIME – PROCEEDINGS
R v JB (Operation Cornflour) - Simon represents a banker in an 18 Defendant case concerning two £multi-million conspiracies to commit fraud and money laundering. Simon’s client is a director of a number companies which provided payment facilitation, escrow and payroll services to a number of suspected ‘boiler rooms’ said to engage in the fraudulent sale of investment products.
The matter is currently split into four separate trials, of which our client is to appear in two.
R v AH (Operation Balaban) - represented a company Director indicted with 7 others with Conspiracy to Defraud regarding the suspected mis-selling of VER carbon credits, CER carbon credits and diamonds. Overall losses were said to exceed £7m.
The prosecution relied on a witness named Andrew Ager. The prosecution had asserted that Ager was an expert in the carbon credits market and had relied upon him to secure convictions in over 20 trials. Ager had repeatedly told juries that, amongst other things, there was no secondary market in the sale of VER carbon credits.
Ager improperly attempted to dissuade a defence expert witness, Dr. Frunza, from giving evidence during a recorded telephone conversation. This resulted in an application to cross-examine Ager before he was permitted to give evidence to the jury. During the course of that cross-examination, the following evidence was elicited:
- Ager had no academic qualifications whatsoever. He had not obtained a degree. When asked if he had any A-Levels, he replied that he had sat 3, but couldn’t remember if he had passed.
- Despite asserting that he kept abreast of the carbon credits market, he admitted that he had not read any books on the subject even though he accepted that Dr. Frunza’s books were widely available. He did, however, tell the court that he had once seen a documentary about credit credits.
- He admitted that a number of the assertions he had made to Dr. Frunza, during a joint experts meeting, were either wholly untrue or substantially inaccurate.
- He admitted that he did not consider it his duty to bring facts to the court’s attention which might assist the defence.
- He admitted that he had kept no record whatsoever of the material that he had been provided with by the police and no notes of his workings.
- He admitted that he had lost some of the sensitive material he had been provided with by the police as he kept it in a cupboard under the stairs and the material had been damaged by a “leak”. He did, however, assure the court that he now had better storage facilities as he kept confidential material in a “locked box on his balcony”.
Prior to Ager giving evidence, targeted disclosure requests revealed that the officers in the case had taken no notes of their meetings with Ager and no record of the material that they had provided to him. In light of Ager’s admissions, it was plain that his evidence was incapable of any independent review, quite apart from his obvious unsuitability as an expert witness. At the conclusion of the voir dire the prosecution confirmed that they abandoned Ager and that he had been removed from the National Crime Agency’s list of approved experts. The trial judge commented that Ager should never be permitted to give expert evidence again.
A voir dire of the officers in the case and lawyers from the CPS was then sought in order to establish the extent of the disclosure failures, with a view to establishing the investigation was rotten at the core. This resulted in the prosecution disclosing that the CPS and the police had been in possession of material that was potentially damaging to another prosecution expert. That evidence did not appear on any prosecution disclosure schedule.
The Prosecution duly offered no evidence and abandoned the case, resulting in not guilty verdicts being formally returned.
The case was reported extensively by the national media:
R v SR – (Operation Wintergreen) - represent a company director previously convicted in his absence of Conspiracy to Defraud and money laundering. The case related to a number of alleged boiler rooms suspected of mis-selling millions of pounds worth of carbon credits to members of the public. Having represented a company director in the well publicised case in which the Prosecution’s leading carbon credit ‘expert’ was discredited*, comprehensive grounds to appeal the client’s convictions were identified. Simon was the first to lodge an appeal of this nature.
Simon has also been instructed to appeal the convictions of defendants convicted in other boiler room frauds in which this ‘expert’ gave evidence.
*see ‘Operation Balaban’ above.
R v SJ – represented a company director in an 11 defendant Conspiracy to Defraud regarding the mis-selling of diamonds and binary options.
R v LA – represented a company director charged with 7 others in relation to an alleged Conspiracy to Defraud investors in binary options via Binary Inter Bank (BIB), in which his client was said to have played a leading role.
R v FH (Operation Kadenza, Operation Hawser and Operation Lightdance) - Represented the lead defendant in a £100m+ ‘vishing’ fraud, at the time the largest of its kind ever to be prosecuted in the UK. “This was the largest covert proactive operation the Met has ever undertaken against cyber-enabled crime.” The Metropolitan police’s Falcon (online crime and fraud) unit.
R v VR (Operation Penco) - 12 handed £multi-million fraud encompassing two separate conspiracies to defraud high net worth individuals and those seeking to reinvest their pensions by way of SIPPs to purchase VER and CER carbon credits.
R v AH - advised on appeal against convictions for Fraud by False Representation and Operating a Collective Investment Scheme Without Authorisation relating to what the FCA describe as a £multi-million foreign exchange Ponzi fraud (AH having self-represented at trial).
R v ZI (Operation Zaminder) – large-scale money laundering operation against a number of Bureau De Change businesses operating throughout London.
R v CW (Operation Veil) - HMRC investigation into a well-known Organised Crime Group in North London believed to have evaded £millions of VAT due on the manufacture and distribution of tobacco in the UK.
R v PC – represented lead defendant in a multi-handed £10m+ money laundering investigation by Scotland Yard.
R v JW - joint prosecution by the CPS and Department for Work & Pensions of £100,000+ benefits fraud.
R v TM – multi-handed conspiracy to evade VAT on a £multi-million operation importing cigarettes.
Metropolitan Police v LO – secured the return of over £100,000 seized by Scotland Yard in civil cash seizure proceedings
R –v- JM – (Operation Slick) - JM charged with four counts of Conspiracy to Commit Fraud by False Representation in relation to a £28million boiler room fraud.
R v TW – represented client charged with a £mutli-million Conspiracy to Corrupt and Conspiracy to Defraud Mars plc.
R –v- JM – Confiscation (Operation Devout 2) The Defendant was indicted in relation to a £25 million MTEC fraud.
FRAUD & FINANCIAL CRIME – NOTABLE ONGOING INVESTIGATIONS
DB – SFO investigation into ‘Global Forestry Investments’ - Simon is instructed by company director in an SFO investigation into an alternative investment scheme which allowed investors to obtain a leasehold interest in plots of land on teak plantations located in Brazil. It is believed that the investment was structured to fall outside of the FSA’s definition of an Unregulated Collective Investment Scheme, however, the SFO believes the conditions thereof were disregarded and investors defrauded of approximately £27m.
TB – Trading Standards investigation - Act for a suspected shadow partner of what is believed to have been the fastest growing providers of IPTV copyrighted content in Europe. The investigation was instigated and now supported by a number of copyright owners, including Sky and BT. The company is believed to have generated millions in revenue. Offences are suspected to have been committed under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Fraud Act 2006.
HM – City of London Police investigation - Instructed by a company Director in an Intellectual Property Crime Unit investigation into the suspected unauthorised use of trademarks, conspiracy to defraud and money laundering. Simon’s client is linked to companies believed to be involved in sourcing counterfeit BMW, AUDI and VW car parts in Asia and selling them via a number of platforms to purchasers based mainly in the UK. Investigations remain on-going however the total benefit is believed to run into the millions.
R v JG - multi-handed murder of a fellow prison inmate.
R v JC (Operation Varangi) - charged with Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs following the seizure of 30 kilos of cocaine and £100,000 cash following a prolonged joint investigation by the NCA and Metropolitan Police Organised Crime Partnership.
R v AA (Operation Loure) – acted for lead defendant charged with Conspiracy to Convert Firearms, Conspiracy to Possess Firearms with Intent to Endanger Life, Possession of Firearms with Intent to Endanger Life, Possession of Ammunition, and Conspiracy to Commit GBH.
R v JL – represented lead defendant charged with 10 others with Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice, Money Laundering and Conspiracy to Supply of Class A Drugs
R v CZ - indicted along with his ex-wife with Controlling Prostitution, running what the prosecution describe as ‘a chain of very successful brothels across London’.
R v JM - represented an investment broker in relation to historic allegations of rape made by two complainants.
R v CC – (Operation Gulpin) part of the team in what was a Conspiracy to Rob Graf jewellers (Bond Street) of £40 million worth of diamonds and jewellery.
R v MG – Acted for the lead defendant in a Conspiracy to Supply 50 kilos of heroine.
AS – Essex Police Investigation (New York) Advised a senior executive of a major international bank in relation to an international historic rape investigation involving complex jurisdictional issues.
CS (Operation Tuleta) - Acted on behalf of a client suspected of involvement in the News International hacking scandal.
R v H – Acted on behalf of a client charged with the Kidnapping, Blackmail, and s.18 Wounding of a television executive.
R v J – Acted on behalf of a Dentist accused of sexually assaulting his dental nurse, advising on both criminal and regulatory proceedings.
R v R – Acted for a client charged with the alleged Blackmail of Tamara Ecclestone.
R v CJ – Advised on appeal of a Murder conviction in what was the first ever prosecution to rely on canine forensics.
ASSOCIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS
- Member of the Law Society
- Member of the Young Fraud Lawyer’s Association
- Member of the London Criminal Courts Solicitor Association