Let’s start with some links from the Red Lion Chambers, thanks to the two legal eagles there who put together their monthly newsletter;
FROM AZERBAIJAN WITH LOVE
A couple running a money laundering operation in London which allegedly funnelled some £14m in cash into the UK, has lost their right to remain anonymous. It is baffling to us at IE that they should have had any rights to remain anonymous but there y’go. The Evening Standard has reported on the case here.
The assets hearing should be interesting.
SHOULD THE SFO BE DISBANDED?
Red Lion flagged up the Mail Online story about a former Serco employee who faced an 8-year – yes eight years – investigation into an alleged UK prison tag contract. Simon Marshall was acquitted last month and called for the SFO to face serious reform, or be disbanded. He claims the SFO `retro-fitted a case’ against him.
The story raises two interesting questions; why does it take 8 years for one government agency investigating another (the idea that Serco is a private company is hardly credible given its main function is admin for the public sector) to reach the trial stage? Secondly, why does the SFO invite secondments from private law/accountancy firms, which will inevitably lead to investigations being compromised or delayed? Check the SFO careers page here.
ACTION FRAUD WARNS ON HMRC SCAMS
In the 12 months to 30 April 2021, HMRC responded to more than 1,154,300 referrals of suspicious contact from the public. More than 576,960 of these offered bogus tax rebates. In the same period, HMRC has worked with telecoms companies and Ofcom to remove more than 3,000 malicious telephone numbers and with internet service providers to take down over 15,700 malicious web pages. HMRC responded to 443,033 reports of phone scams in total, 135% up on the previous year.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:
“We’re urging all of our customers to be really careful if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or bank details. There are a lot of scams out there where fraudsters are calling, texting or emailing customers claiming to be from HMRC. If you have any doubts, we suggest you don’t reply directly, and contact us yourself straight away. Search GOV.UK for our ‘scams checklist’ and to find out ‘how to report tax scams’.”
IFB REPORT THAT CRASH-FOR-CASH STILL GOING ON
Despite the increasing use of dashcams, or even mounting your smartphone on the dashboard, crash-for-cash scammers are still trying it on, despite the new MoJ portal. A 20-year-old man suspected of causing a ‘Crash for Cash’ on the A57 has been arrested in a raid, as a result of a joint investigation between the IFB and West Midlands Police.
The IFB recently revealed seven postal districts in Birmingham are amongst the top 30 UK hotspots for dangerous ‘Crash for Cash’ scams.
Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence and Investigations at the IFB said:
“The IFB has been working extensively with West Midlands Police to investigate a string of deliberate motor collisions involving innocent road users, and today’s arrest marks significant progress. Our recent analysis sadly shows Birmingham is the top UK hotspot for ‘Crash for Cash’ scams and we are determined to help the police to identify the culprits.”
CAMPAIGN ON NON DISCLOSURE OF CONVICTIONS
A campaign to make businesses aware of new rules on applicants delaring convictions is being rolled out in Scotland. Tha law on this point changed late in 2020 and it means that some low level offences now don’t have to be declared for five years, but just one year instead. So effectively, the offence is `spent’ much sooner.
It will be interesting to see if someone who is allowed to not disclose a fine for say breach of the peace, when it comes to job applications, but is asked a general `have you any convictions’ question on a home, car or health insurance form, will react. There may be a test case ahead and compensation claims levelled against insurers who don’t realise that asking the question may be legal in England but not in Scotland.