Umar Azmeh

Umar is an experienced associate specialising in business crime, financial crime, and investigations. He also has a specialist sanctions practice.

He has significant experience of cross-border criminal investigations. In the recent past he has acted in, for example, investigations involving the US Department of Justice, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and a Danish regulator. He has also represented clients facing investigations from, amongst others, the Serious Fraud Office, Prudential Regulation Authority, Financial Conduct Authority, and the Competition and Markets Authority. He also has particular experience of investigations conducted by HMRC, including under the Code of Practice 9/Contractual Disclosure Facility procedures, and is able to advise tactically as well as on the substantive taxation law aspects of these matters.

Another core part of Umar’s practice is representing individuals who are subject to internal investigations. By way of example, he recently advised a senior banker at one of the major investment banks who was under suspicion of breaching various rules and regulations concerning insider information/market abuse.

Umar has considerable expertise in commercial litigation, including civil fraud with an international dimension, and particularly where there is a criminal aspect. He has advised both corporations and individuals on potential liability under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Fraud Act 2006, and the Bribery Act 2010. He also has experience of advising clients on privilege, including having worked on the leading case in this area, namely SFO v ENRC.

Through his strong commercial and financial background, Umar has developed a specialist domestic and international sanctions practice. He is able to advise individuals and corporates on UK, EU and US sanctions, having dealt with sanctions issues relating to, for example, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. He is also an author of the LexisNexis sanctions practice notes, which include commentary on sanctions and export controls, designation under UN/UK/EU sanctions, and on the enforcement of financial sanctions breaches.

Prior to joining BCL in 2020, Umar practised as a criminal barrister with a particular interest and expertise in fraud, which included acting in serious fraud trials lasting several months. He then qualified as a solicitor at a leading trans-Atlantic law firm in London, and spent time in the legal department of a financial services institution. He was most recently a lawyer at the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division), advising the senior judiciary on law and procedure in some of the most high-profile and sensitive cases in the jurisdiction. Umar brings his very varied experience of other areas of business, and commercial and corporate law, to bear for the benefit of his clients.

Following an LL.B. (Hons.) from King’s College London, Umar obtained an M.Sc. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Oxford (Worcester College), obtaining a distinction and graduating top of his year. He is presently undertaking a DPhil in Law (part-time) at the University of Oxford (St Anne’s College), supervised by Professor Andrew Ashworth QC and Professor Julian Roberts. His thesis analyses the terrorism sentencing scheme in England and Wales. Umar is also frequently published in both practitioner and academic journals, and writes on all aspects of criminal law and procedure (see below for publications). He is a regular contributor to the leading academic journal Criminal Law Review.

Umar is often asked to speak at seminars and conferences on various aspects of criminal law and procedure, which have recently included talks at the University of Oxford, University College London, the University of Hamburg, and the House of Lords.

Journal Articles:

Articles by Umar Azmeh