Corporate Crime

"They have a fantastic practice in this area."

Chambers UK 2021

Our heritage as criminal law experts makes us a natural go-to firm for companies which find themselves at risk of criminal investigation and prosecution.

Like individuals, companies are subject to the criminal law and can be prosecuted. The last few years have seen a trend in prosecutors targeting companies, both in the UK and overseas. Prosecutors have been assisted in doing so by the so-called failure to prevent model, introduced into our law by the Bribery Act 2010, and extended to include the failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion offence contained in the Criminal Finances Act 2017.  

The investigation and prosecution of a company will often run in parallel with proceedings against individuals, which may include the most senior personnel. On conviction, companies can expect a significant fine, as well as being ordered to make confiscation and costs payments. If the company reaches a settlement with the authorities in the form of a deferred prosecution agreement, it will have to make payments to cover a penalty, compensation and costs and it will also have to demonstrate that it is reforming itself. This may lead to the appointment of an independent monitor to assess and report on the effectiveness of a company’s compliance and ethics policies and procedures. However the criminal case is disposed of the company will almost inevitably face risks of debarment from public contracts, follow-on civil claims and reputational fall-out, all of which need to be mitigated and contained.

Frequently, jurisdictional issues arise and a company may find itself subject to investigations based on the same or similar facts but conducted by different investigators, prosecutors and regulators, both from within the UK and abroad.

Having worked on landmark cases in this field, we are well placed to advise on corporate criminal liability issues and we are trusted to guide companies through the process of investigations, self-reporting and negotiating with prosecutors to achieve the most favourable outcome. Our diverse client base spans FTSE and other listed or international companies to traditional smaller enterprises.

How we can help

  • We conduct internal investigations to identify issues and scope risks, advising on whether and, if so, how best to self-report to the authorities.
  • Our lawyers have un-rivalled experience of deferred prosecution agreements, and we can advise you on the process, your best strategy for achieving one and then negotiate the agreement.
  • We can steer you through complex cases where the same or similar conduct is investigated by multiple agencies, including from overseas. In such cases, we partner with experts around the world to provide the best possible joined-up advice.
  • We are specialist criminal litigators and, if a settlement is not on offer or is not acceptable, we can ensure you are properly defended.
  • We advise directors and officers on their duties and on specific compliance/governance obligations and issues.

Our approach

We understand the law in this area is complex and can sometimes lead to unpredictable outcomes. We can guide companies through the rules and help them position themselves to their maximum advantage.  

We are happy to work alongside other corporate law firms to bring our specialist criminal expertise to bear, or to work independently to secure the best possible outcome for corporate clients.

We also work closely with our colleagues in Reputation Management, Civil Fraud, Regulatory and Corporate and Commercial, as required, to offer a comprehensive service.

If your company has concerns about the risk of potential criminal misconduct, please contact one of our specialist corporate crime lawyers.

WHAT CLIENTS AND DIRECTORIES HAVE SAID

The firm has very good criminal lawyers with strength and depth throughout the department."

Chambers and Partners, 2019

I believe their strength lies in their meticulous attention to detail and the intelligence of the individuals employed by that firm. I could not imagine a better law firm."

Chambers and Partners, 2018

This top-tier UK-based firm stands out in the region for its distinguished white-collar crime practice."

Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence, 2018

They guide you expertly through the criminal and regulatory landscape in a very effective, practical way."

Chambers and Partners, 2018

Kingsley Napley are collegiate and easy to work with. You know you could give work to any of the partners, it wouldn't matter because you know they would all give good advice." 

Chambers and Partners, 2018

Kingsley Napley LLP’s ‘exceptionally experienced group of solicitors’ has ‘a solid level of experience’ in all areas of corporate crime including serious fraud, reputation management, regulatory liability and compliance, and also has a strong international practice with respect to cross-border tax, MLA and extradition issues."
 Legal 500, 2017

They are determined to do the best for their clients at all times and leave absolutely no stone unturned. It is a brilliant defence firm."      

 Chambers UK, A Clients Guide to the UK Legal Profession

The criminal litigation department at Kingsley Napley LLP continues to ‘hold its own against the Magic Circle firms’."

Legal 500

Recent work

Specific examples of current and recent corporate crime work include:

  • Acting for Tesco plc in the SFO’s investigation into financial irregularities and Deferred Prosecution Agreement reached in April 2017.
  • Advising a computer company, being investigated for the corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery under section 7 of the Bribery Act.
  • Advising a global cosmetic group of companies
  • Advising a London brokerage in respect of a s.166 review and other regulatory matters
  • Advising a FCA-regulated institution in respect of internal fraud
  • Acting for a well-known media organisation which was served with a request for information from overseas in respect of criminal proceedings being undertaken in that jurisdiction
  • Instructed by a FTSE 250 company to advise on money laundering / proceeds of crime concerns arising from on-going confiscation proceedings
  • Acting for three emergency plumbing businesses  (and Managing Director) in relation to fraud and consumer protection related offences.
  • We are instructed by a global professional services firm in relation to a private criminal prosecution against two of its staff members (and others), alleging fraud.
  • Acting for corporate group in relation to a police investigation 
  • Our Criminal, Dispute Resolution and Employment teams are advising an asset management company  holding a sovereign wealth fund which is bringing civil proceedings against three individuals, including a former director.
  • Advising a Hedge Fund in connection with an on-going tax investigation commenced in Germany. 
  • Supporting an investigation being conducted on behalf of global bank. 
  • Acting for a multi-national film company involved in an alleged large VAT fraud. Conducting an investigation and managing VAT liability issues. 

 

An excellent team of bright and dedicated lawyers."

 Chambers UK 2021

There is huge collective experience within the team."

Legal 500 UK 2021

One of the premier white collar defence teams in London."

Legal 500 UK 2020

Well-known name in the market, with deep expertise in all aspects of serious corporate crime including regulatory breaches and complex fraud. Adept at handling international corruption, fraudulent trading and false accounting matters. Well versed in bribery and money laundering investigations. Notable experience in advising on internal investigations and compliance, as well as in handling proceedings by government enforcement agencies."

Chambers UK 2020 – A Client’s Guide to the UK Legal Profession

One of the few original boutique white collar firms to truly develop an expertise in corporate contentious financial services work."

Legal 500 UK 2020

 

Read Louise Hodges' and Caroline Day's Chapter 'Witness Interviews in Internal Investigations: The UK Perspective'  in GIR's Practitioner's Guide to Global Investigations, Fourth Edition

Latest blogs & news

Corporate criminal liability reform – the pressure is on the Law Commission as MPs express their frustration at delay

The spectre of a failure to prevent economic crime offence for corporates once again received attention during a debate in parliament on 13 January 2021 as part of the consideration of the Financial Services Bill.

Deferred Prosecution Agreements - New SFO Guidance

The SFO’s entered into its ninth deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) earlier today, this time reaching a resolution of bribery allegations with a company called Airline Services Limited. With other corporate cases still on its books, we can expect to see more DPAs as these cases work through the system. So, what does that mean for companies which might be caught up in an investigation?

The SFO's confirmation of a DPA in principle with Airline Services Ltd illustrates the balance between confidentiality and transparency in the DPA process

In a press release dated 22 October 2020, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that it had reached an agreement in principle regarding a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with Airline Services Ltd (ASL). This agreement is subject to approval from the Court, which will be sought from Mrs Justice May at a public hearing at Southwark Crown Court, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, on 30 October 2020. Subject to the approval, the SFO have stated that the DPA will conclude its investigation into ASL and its conduct.

Will the Economic Crime Levy bring much needed investment in the fight against economic crime?

The Government announced its intention to introduce an Economic Crime Levy in the Budget 2020. This is designed to fund government action to tackle money laundering and help deliver the reforms committed to in the Economic Crime plan 2019-2020. It has since followed up on this - on 21 July - with the launch of a consultation as to how such a levy would operate.

AML: HMRC flexes enforcement muscle to the tune of £7.8 million

In September 2019, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) published its list of businesses that have not complied with the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 (MLR 2017) for the tax year 2019 to 2020. Within this, it revealed that it has fined Touma Foreign Exchange Ltd £7.8 million for a wide range of serious failures under the Money Laundering Regulations. 

SFO guidance on co-operation: more carrot than stick?

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established to investigate and prosecute cases involving serious or complex fraud, a mission that inevitably leads it to the corporate sector. In 2010, it was given two significant tools in dealing with companies: a simple route to corporate criminal liability for bribery cases in the Bribery Act 2010 (the stick); and a means of incentivising a company fixed with corporate criminal liability to co-operate with the SFO by entering into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) and so avoiding a conviction (the carrot).

Crunching the numbers: is the National Crime Agency right to seek additional funding?

As the National Crime Agency (“NCA”) releases its 2019 National Strategy Assessment, NCA Director General Lynne Owens is calling for an extra £2.7 billion in law enforcement funding to combat serious and organised crime over the next three years. With 4,542 active UK-based organised crime groups and 181,000 UK people involved in serious and organised crime, law enforcement agencies are starting to creak under the strain. In this blog, we review the National Strategy Assessment’s analysis of current trends in financial offending and we look at the authorities’ response within their current funding arrangements. Against that background, we consider the argument for greater investment in law enforcement capacity.

HMRC turns to companies to police tax evasion

New provisions introduced in September 2017 (under the Criminal Finances Act 2017(ss45-46)  to allow the prosecution of a company or partnership for failing to prevent its employees and other “associated persons” from facilitating tax evasion in the UK and abroad, were heralded as a game-changer in terms of reducing tax fraud and closing the tax gap (see our related blog - Will the new corporate offence of failure to prevent tax evasion and enhanced international tax transparency change the landscape for tax investigations?).

“Carrying on as we are is not a prudent option” says the Competition and Market Authority

The Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) Business Plan 2019-20 was presented as necessarily high level with a work programme and priorities contingent on the outcome of Brexit (see related blog: Brexit uncertainty pervades Competition and Markets Authority Annual Plan 2019-20).

SFO v ENRC: what did the Court of Appeal decide and what does it mean for lawyers?

In September 2018, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment on ENRC’s appeal against Andrews J’s High Court decision in the case of The Director of the Serious Fraud Office v ENRC. The judgment has been praised for going some way to restore sense and order to the protection of legal professional privilege.

‘No deal’ is a backwards step for solving crime across borders

Shortly after the referendum result, I attended a meeting in Whitehall to which representatives of a wide range of criminal justice agencies had been invited. Our host, a policy official, told us that Brexit was to be viewed as an opportunity and asked us to identify the specific opportunities Brexit afforded us in our work. There was a stony silence; a tumbleweed moment. We all knew that, as the Institute for Government would later pithily observe, the UK would struggle to invent an arrangement on law enforcement co-operation with the EU that suits it better than the one it has now. What’s more, as matters stand, these arrangements will come to a grinding halt in little over a month. Where will that leave those agencies tasked with dealing with serious cross-border crime?

Unexplained Wealth Orders: What we know one year on

The Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) has been available to law enforcement since February 2018. UWOs are intended to bolster the Proceeds of Crime regime, by making it easier for law enforcement agencies to seize assets suspected of representing criminal property.

Tackling economic crime 2018-19

At the end of 2018 the Government published its “ 1 Year Update” of the Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-20 (“the Update”).  This report set out that “corruption and economic crime undermines our economy, damages our international reputation and communities.” It concludes that the Government’s “commitment and effectiveness” in this area is demonstrated by “the UK’s strong performance” in the independent review of money laundering and terrorist financing undertaken by the Financial Action Task Force and its top tier ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Routinely and aggressively pursuing money-laundering investigations: the verdict on the UK’s AML regime

In December 2018, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published its report on the UK regime to counter money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF). The report praises the strength of the UK regime, noting that the UK has a ‘robust’ understanding of ML/TF risk, and proactively investigates, prosecutes and convicts ML and TF. The report cites that the UK achieves “around 7900 investigations, 2000 prosecutions and 1400 convictions annually for stand-alone ML offences or where ML is the principle offence”.

Tackling illicit finance: lawyers under the spotlight

At the end of last year the National Crime Agency published its annual report on Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) for 2018. Media reporting (such as in the FT, subscription required), on the annual report has focussed, amongst other things, on the relatively small proportion of SARs made by lawyers. Is this a fair criticism and, if so, what is the reason for it?

Reform of corporate liability – renewed calls for change

The House of Lords Bribery Act committee inquiry heard evidence recently from Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) Director Lisa Osofsky and Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC. This was preceded earlier in the morning with an evidence session with Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, where the issue of Deferred Prosecution Agreements was the focus.

The UK’s new National Economic Crime Centre

On 11 December 2017, the UK government published its five year Anti-Corruption strategy with the aims of preserving the UK’s status as “one of the safest and cleanest places in the world to do business", and “building a strong, confident Global Britain”.  Since 2010 the UK has taken significant steps to fight bribery and corruption, and is now ranked, according to Transparency International, as one of the ten least corrupt countries in the world. Notwithstanding this, money laundering and corruption remain a growing threat: the National Crime Agency estimates that over £90bn are laundered through the UK economy each year.

What is a Cartel?

Last week, the CMA launched a new campaign to raise awareness of business cartels.  The campaign is designed to send a “tough message to business cheats” which features a cartels hotline and also includes potential financial rewards for those who report suspected cartels.

FCA to regulate Claims Management Companies and caps on fees introduced

A number of provisions in the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 (“the Act”) came into force on 1 October 2018, following the Act receiving Royal Assent on 10 May 2018.  Amongst other things, the Act transfers the regulation of Claims Management Companies (“CMCs”) from the Ministry of Justice (“MoJ”) to the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) and imposes caps on the fees which CMCs can charge.  The FCA will take over regulation from April 2019.

Search warrants at banks in the UK: what you need to know

Many a CF11 money-laundering reporting officer has watched the police carry his bank's computers away in the knowledge that this will bring its business - or part of it - to a grinding halt. What can a firm do to minimise disruption of this kind and challenge a search warrant? In this blog, Vivien Cochrane takes the compliance officer through the vagaries of British law, with a checklist for action at the end. 

Corporate Crime Insights

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News

10 years of the UK Bribery Act: Compliance enough to define law’s success? - Alun Milford quoted in Compliance Week

Alun Milford quoted in various sources following the UK Supreme Court limiting the territorial reach of the SFO

Alun Milford, Caroline Day, Áine Kervick & Phil Salvesen contribute to the International Comparative Legal Guide: Corporate Crime 2021

Reform of corporate liability: two ways about it - Louise Hodges & Alun Milford write for PLC Magazine

Getting The Deal Through: Alun Milford & Áine Kervick discuss Anti-Corruption in the UK

Corporate criminal liability review could yield “radical and seismic” changes - Louise Hodges quoted in GIR

Alun Milford quoted following UK Governments "fence sitting" approach to reforms of corporate criminal liability laws

Companies House powers boosted to tackle £137bn dirty money deficit - Alun Milford quoted in Accountancy Daily

SFO struggles to process evidence during pandemic - Louise Hodges quoted in the Financial Times

COVID-19 Slows Pace of Existing UK Investigations - Caroline Day quoted in Law360

Worth of the Bribery Act under scrutiny: Louise Hodges quoted in The Times

Business and Government should brace for wave of fraud: Alun Milford quoted in The Telegraph

Alun Milford quoted extensively following Government's announced proposals to introduce an economic crime levy

When justice takes a holiday - Alun Milford quoted in Law360

Serious Fraud Office (SFO) issues co-operation guidance – Louise Hodges comments

Economic Crime Plan for 2019-2022 - Alun Milford quoted

DPAs: good deals or a two-tier system? - Alun Milford quoted in The Times

Deferred prosecution agreements are not the cosy deals they seem - Stephen Parkinson writes for The Times

4 Takeaways From UK Review Of Mostly Untested Bribery Law - Louise Hodges quoted in Law360

Brexit ‘will slow bribery policing’ - Louise Hodges quoted in The Times

UK is failing in the fight against money laundering - Alun Milford quoted in The Times

Briefs will always be in fashion - Katherine Tyler quoted in The Times

Kingsley Napley named as ‘Best law firm for financial crime, fraud & regulatory 2019’ by The Times

First anniversary of the new Anti-Money Laundering Regime – is it working? Nicola Finnerty writes for Compliance Monitor

GIR 100 2017: Kingsley Napley a world leader in cross-border investigations

Procurement and outsourcing: UK Government's anti-corruption initiatives in 2015

Seven years on: The Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act

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Blogs

The SFO's confirmation of a DPA in principle with Airline Services Ltd illustrates the balance between confidentiality and transparency in the DPA process

Will the Economic Crime Levy bring much needed investment in the fight against economic crime?

Recycling firm charged with corporate manslaughter

Fraud in the time of COVID-19

In-house lawyers and general counsel take note: will your communications be privileged?

The Corporate Offence of Failure to Prevent the Facilitation of Tax Evasion: Two years on

SFO guidance on co-operation: more carrot than stick?

Crunching the numbers: is the National Crime Agency right to seek additional funding?

HMRC turns to companies to police tax evasion

SFO v ENRC: what did the Court of Appeal decide and what does it mean for lawyers?

No deal Brexit and financial crime: proposed regulations published

Tackling economic crime 2018-19

Corporate and individual accountability for international crimes: Kingsley Napley hosts second International Criminal Law Conference

Reform of corporate liability – renewed calls for change

The UK’s new National Economic Crime Centre

What is a Cartel?

FCA to regulate Claims Management Companies and caps on fees introduced

Search warrants at banks in the UK: what you need to know

Corporates in the spotlight: NCA and SFO confirm tackling money laundering a strategic priority

Guest blog: Corporate criminal liability under international law

Gambling Commission imposes record fine on William Hill for anti-money laundering failures

Litigation privilege: the Court of Appeal endorses ENRC

Guest blog: Should companies have a duty to prevent human rights abuses?

Business and Human Rights: Magnitsky clause now in force

HMRC takes on off-shore tax evasion

Will the new corporate offence of failure to prevent tax evasion and enhanced international tax transparency change the landscape for tax investigations?

Failure to prevent tax evasion? Responsibility shifted from HMRC onto companies

Holding Corporates to Account: Criminal Liability for Failure to Prevent Facilitation of Tax Evasion

Corporate Crime Q&A: The new corporate offence of failure to prevent tax evasion

New Guidance on Financial Sanctions – OFSI approach to compliance and enforcement

Privilege, Confidentiality and the Challenge of Modern Technology

The Magnitsky Clause Part 2: Profiting from the suppression of those who seek to assert their human rights?

The Magnitsky Clause Part 1: Profiting from the suppression of whistleblowers – what does it mean for business?

Anti-Money Laundering: new rules and regulations in play

Three companies convicted of corporate manslaughter in a week

Health and Safety Sentencing a year on from the new guidelines – What’s changed?

SRA NOT SFO: Professional obligations and s2 interviews - Law Society says do not compromise

A new criminal offence for corporates that fail to prevent human rights abuses?

FCA guidance on how firms should deal with PEPs: a proportionate approach

Internal investigations and legal professional privilege: an increasingly tricky area

All change for the PACE codes of practice?

FCA and PRA joint policy statement regarding enforcement decision-making

Senior Managers Regime – the FCA predicts more enforcement litigation in the new regime

Tackling overseas corruption: Committee recommendations for Department for International Development.

Corporate Criminal Liability – Consultation opened over need for reform

How the government took the fight to corporate criminals in 2016

New FCA Chief seeks to redefine mission of the organisation

Iso publishes standard on anti-corruption measures: independent certification or gentle reassurance?

Anti-money laundering and social responsibility: keeping the Gambling Commission at bay

Insider trading: the new market abuse regime

FCA annual report 2015/16: overview of Enforcement, improving standards and the strategic priority to combat Financial Crime

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