White collar or corporate crime can be committed by individuals or corporate bodies, including charities, trusts and partnerships. Penalties on conviction can be severe – individuals can be, and are, imprisoned for the most serious frauds. In addition, the courts can order compensation for victims, make confiscation orders, disqualify directors, and issue fines amounting to as much as 400% more than the financial advantage gained through the crime.
While the reputational damage to businesses and individuals is not easy to calculate, the costs of defending an aggressive investigation and prosecution are undeniably high, and the diversion of key staff onto the defence team is a drain on corporate resources. In light of this, most cases of white collar crime are resolved without a trial, with the accused negotiating and agreeing a plea. We understand how plea agreements are reached with prosecutors and enforcement agencies, having acted for tax authorities in enforcement proceedings, and through our experience of working in the Crown Office in Scotland.
We possess extensive experience of providing clear-headed legal advice in complex investigations, supplying comprehensive and efficient support in planning and executing document reviews, and engaging with investigative bodies in discussions on the scope and extent of inquiries. We take a proactive investigative approach that allows us to ‘get ahead’ of potential issues as an investigation develops and in advance of any disclosure, allowing time to plan an appropriate defence strategy. We provide advice throughout all stages of an investigation, up to and including criminal proceedings, and in negotiating and agreeing plea arrangements with prosecutors.
Investigation advice and support: we provide legal support throughout the course of complex investigations, with a particular focus on ensuring that requests for information are lawful and proportionate and that enforcement agencies comply with principles of fairness. We have legal/paralegal teams available to work on significant discovery processes and the interrogation of data efficiently and cost-effectively.
Strategic defence advice: the defence strategy will evolve throughout the course of an investigation as new information becomes known and patterns of conduct emerge. We are tenacious in ensuring that all evidential avenues are explored, and report clearly on optimum strategies in light of emerging evidence.
Advocacy and representation: our team includes skilled litigators and Advocates (with higher rights of audience in the Scottish courts), many with experience of working in the Crown Office and for tax enforcement agencies.
Developing defence strategies, including acting in plea negotiations and agreements, preparing, and delivering extensive and compelling mitigation statements in the event of agreeing a plea and working seamlessly with clients to ensure discipline in managing publicity and public statements.
Providing hands-on support and strategic advice throughout all stages of a white collar investigation, from dawn raids by enforcement authorities to lengthy, detailed document and data gathering exercises by investigators.
Acting for tax authorities in the first Scottish case to be heard in relation to a series of multi-million-pound carousel VAT fraud cases, and then acting in all cases in Scotland.