Investigations

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. A transition period, during which EU laws continue to apply in the UK, is due to end on 31 December 2020. The UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement sets out transitional arrangements and negotiations for the future UK/EU relationship are ongoing.

Internal Investigations

As investigations lawyers we treat every case as a piece of precision surgery, combining the skill and experience of our criminal and civil lawyers with the latest technology for minimum disruption. We are ready to help companies that have uncovered issues with potentially criminal, regulatory or civil repercussions such as suspected bribery, fraud, cartel activity, sanctions and/or money laundering breaches, or market manipulation.  

Where necessary, we draw on other specialists within the firm, from practices including employment, data protection and reputation management. Our use of technology, including AI tools and our in-house eDiscovery product, MDR Discover, means we can investigate issues quickly and in a way that is cost-effective, with minimum disruption to our clients' businesses. In addition, analysts from MDR Cyber, our cyber consultancy and intelligence business, can work alongside our lawyers from day one of an investigation if required.

Given our experience of regulators and prosecuting bodies, we can also advise on whether a report to the relevant authorities is required. Where this might lead to an external investigation, we will work with clients to reach the right resolution. Our criminal defence lawyers have advised on every type of criminal resolution, including decisions of no further action, concluded deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs), civil recovery orders and acquittals following a contested trial.

For multi-jurisdictional investigations, the International Fraud Group, comprising firms across 30 jurisdictions, is able to offer investigatory services with a unified global approach.

Compliance reviews

We have particular expertise in advising organisations in relation to financial crime risks with experience of conducting compliance reviews and advising different organisations across a range of sectors on the adequacy of their procedures to tackle such risks.

We specialise in advising corporates in respect of the risks that may attach to specific projects or transactions, whether those risks concern bribery and corruption, potential money laundering, or the breach of sanction controls, for example. We also have extensive experience in conducting detailed audits of an organisation's approach to financial crime risks in general, including reviewing and drafting effective and proportionate policies and guidance and identifying and remediating any weaknesses in processes. In the event that there is a suspected issue, we are able to investigate any suspected breaches, working closely with our clients to agree how best to remedy the breach.   

We have significant expertise in advising on the application of the UK's Bribery Act 2010, which creates the criminal offence of failing to prevent persons associated with a commercial organisation from bribing another person on behalf of that organisation, and the application of the UK's Criminal Finances Act 2017, which creates very similar offences in respect of tax evasion.

Corporate monitoring

Increasingly, companies appoint law firms to carry out independent reviews, either proactively or as part of a regulatory or prosecutorial settlement. Since the introduction of DPAs in the UK, the Court can appoint a monitor to oversee and report on a company's programme of remediation. Our lawyers are experienced in agreeing and implementing monitoring programmes for corporate clients, reviewing existing internal controls, and reporting back to the company and regulator.

Key Services

Our Contentious Regulatory lawyers advise on the systems and controls that businesses need to adopt to comply with their anti-money laundering obligations. These include maintenance of an appropriate risk assessment, effective governance arrangements, customer due diligence, source of wealth and source of funds checks, ongoing monitoring, and suspicious activity reporting as well as advising on related risks such as sanctions avoidance, bribery and corruption.

Our Betting & Gaming Group is one of the UK's leading specialist teams and is renowned for its commercial, legal and regulatory expertise. We have extensive experience of advising on compliance assessments, regulatory investigations and licence reviews undertaken by various regulators, in particular the Gambling Commission of Great Britain and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.  We regularly assist clients facing compliance assessments and follow-up investigations, including those arising from thematic reviews.  We have been extensively involved in the thematic review conducted by the Gambling Commission of the UK remote gambling sector, focussing on AML and responsible gaming compliance issues.  We have guided a number of clients through the licence review process, including providing strategic advice on regulatory settlements and representing them at hearings before the Regulatory Panel. Our focus is on helping to protect our clients' interests at the same time as ensuring their relationships with regulators are strong and sustainable.  We also provide bespoke training and AML and systems audits to provide assurance to regulators.

The White Collar Crime & Investigations Group has first-hand experience of defending businesses that have broken the law. We act for clients facing investigation by regulators and law enforcement agencies in the UK, Europe and US (SFO, FCA, CPS, HMRC, CMA, SEC, DOJ among others) and have considerable experience in multi-jurisdictional bribery and corruption investigations, frequently working with overseas advisors.

Our Competition Group works with corporate clients to devise pro-active risk management strategies and compliance procedures, testing their effectiveness through measures such as "mock" dawn raids and business audits. We also advise businesses facing investigations into alleged competition law breaches. We represent businesses and individuals under investigation for alleged cartel conduct including individuals subject to investigation under the criminal cartel offence. Our detailed understanding of the processes, coupled with our knowledge of the enforcement agencies, enables us to advise boards on how best to respond in any given situation.

Our Employment Group advises on all aspects of employment law including minimising the risk of successful whistleblowing claims through proper internal policies, procedures and training. The Group has experience of advising on the employment implications of large scale and public employee scandals

For more than twenty years, Adam Epstein, Head of our Contentious Regulatory Group, has advised on some of the country's biggest enforcement cases. He has a thorough and in-depth understanding of the FCA and the PRA prosecution process, and has practical experience in front of decision makers. His work often takes place in the pre-investigation and pre-enforcement stages, helping clients deal with possible future regulatory action.

We have the largest dedicated group of international injunction specialists in the country and unique relationships with investigators both private and governmental who work with us as a team from day one. If you are a victim of fraud, reacting swiftly and decisively is essential. Decisions made within the first 48 hours of discovery of a fraud will make the difference between success and failure. Freezing assets and seizing evidence is absolutely critical to a successful fraud investigation.

Our Sanctions Group is able to provide advice and guidance to pro-actively respond to any potential breaches of sanctions and export controls. The sanctions and export controls create a number of obligations on certain institutions as well as generally prohibiting any activity caught by the specific sanctions regime. Failure to comply with these obligations and prohibitions are criminal offences. Our group is able to conduct internal investigations to assist you identify those reporting obligations your business may be subject to and, if you have identified a breach of sanctions legislation, to identify the causes of this breach, advise your business on how to minimise the possibility of further occurrences and assist you with any exposure.

Our Tax Investigations team helps clients in circumstances where HMRC have already commenced an investigation or where a disclosure of issues is required.  Our experience is wide-ranging and covers tax evasion (criminal prosecution and COP9), tax avoidance and technical disputes. Our approach also involves stress-test planning and advising on potential issues in advance of any intervention from HMRC.

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