Who? James Watson, associate in the business crime group at Mishcon de Reya.
Why is he in the news? Alongside Mishcon’s Alison Levitt QC and Gareth Minty, represented one of the defendants in a recent high-profile money laundering trial. After a nine-week trial at Southwark Crown Court, both defendants were unanimously acquitted of a money laundering offence. This was the third in a series of cases in Operation Steamroller, which is believed to be the largest boiler room prosecution ever pursued by a UK authority. Trials in 2013 and 2014 resulted in the convictions of nine other individuals.
In this most recent trial, the defendants were accused by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of channelling funds that they knew or suspected were the proceeds of that boiler room fraud through companies registered in Belize and Mauritius and managed by them through a fiduciary services company in Hong Kong.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This prosecution centred on events that took place between 2003 and 2008, but the arrest of our client did not happen until 2014, many years later and after our client had retired. This delay presented a huge difficulty for us since we did not have access to a complete set of records, as no search was carried out of the Hong Kong offices by the SFO: and more generally for our client to try and remember accurately the details of crucial meetings that took place such a long time ago.’
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