BCL undertakes high-stakes defensive and advisory engagements for High-Net-Worth individuals (HNWs), their family offices, and their family members to protect their liberty, livelihoods, assets, data security, and reputations from domestic and international challenge whether instigated by governments, investigating authorities, hostile corporates, or private individuals.
We assemble bespoke teams to resolve complex, high-value, and often unique issues faced by HNWs. We find creative and effective solutions to the special situations they face, and we do so in a way which is discreet, and limits any adverse impact on their family life, businesses, and public profile.
Our team of expert solicitors and barristers have a range of backgrounds in criminal, regulatory, and commercial law and continue to be widely recognised as leaders in their fields. We are bolstered by our extensive network of similarly experienced specialists across the globe (legal, financial, forensic and reputation managers) when the challenges faced by our HNW clients are international and straddle multiple jurisdictions.
Our clients range from public figures and politically exposed persons (PEPs) to high-profile HNWs in the business, industry, sports, entertainment, and media sectors.
Our wealth of experience includes resolving matters arising in politically volatile jurisdictions, sensitive personal affronts, and public attacks.
- Freezing, Forfeiture, Restraint, and Unexplained Wealth
- Complex Tax Investigations and Litigation
Freezing, Forfeiture, Restraint, and Unexplained Wealth
Scrutiny of significant wealth, in particular foreign wealth, continues to increase in the UK. The Government regularly strengthens and extends legislation such as the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) to tackle perceived money laundering or suspicious and unexplained wealth. Domestic authorities now have the power to restrain, freeze, or forfeit virtually any kind of asset, and to require an explanation for “unexplained wealth”. HNWs’ assets within the UK can equally be targeted by overseas authorities – domestic authorities will then use their powers to deny, restrain, and seize assets at the request of foreign governments via mutual legal assistance (MLA) treaties or agreements.
We are consistently recognised as market leaders in POCA work and are regularly engaged by HNWs in investigations and proceedings aimed at restraining, freezing, confiscating or forfeiting assets. We repeatedly succeed in protecting the high value assets of our international private clients from these types of attacks.
BCL is also routinely engaged by HNWs to undertake analyses of wealth to establish its legitimacy as a pre-emptive step where challenges can be anticipated.
- Account Freezing and Forfeiture Orders (AFFOs);
- Anti-Money Laundering Compliance;
- Cash Detention Orders;
- Freezing Orders;
- Restraint orders;
- Proceeds of Crime;
- Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs);
We provide expert advice to HNWs, their businesses, and their family offices on challenges to sanctions, the impact of sanctions, compliance with sanctions, and suspected breaches of sanctions. We regularly advise those targeted by sanctions (Designated Persons), for example by the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, and will apply to annul sanctions (both UK and, in conjunction with overseas lawyers, EU, US and other sanctions regimes).
Complex Tax Investigations and Litigation
Our pre-eminent Tax Investigations and Litigation team, consistently recognised as a market leader, has an outstanding record of successfully defending HNWs and their families in relation to investigations by HMRC (His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), whether it be via a criminal investigation or a civil investigation under the Code of Practice 9 (COP 9) procedure. The purpose of these investigations is both deterrence and recovery of tax which inevitably means that HNWs are key targets, and we are often brought into these investigations by tax specialists at the leading international accounting firms.
Criminal Investigations: Serious and General Crime
Our Serious and General Crime team is consistently recognised as a market leader. We defend HNWs and members of their families in interviews, investigations, and proceedings involving the whole spectrum of criminal allegations ranging from traffic offences, sexual offences, drug offences, to offences involving serious violence. We recognise that even if the offence is minor, the impact it can have on a HNW can be considerable.
We appreciate the unique pressures and vulnerabilities that our HNW clients face: susceptibility to false allegations, the increased public scrutiny, the impact that criminal investigations have on reputations, and the fact that commercial responsibilities continue in the face of criminal investigations.
Our responses are swift, effective, and wherever possible discreet to protect our clients’ personal and commercial reputations.
Fraud, Corruption, and Regulatory Investigations (UK and International)
Our Business Crime team is consistently recognised as a market leader. We represent HNWs whose liberty, livelihoods (including executive and non-executive positions), assets, and reputations are impacted by serious fraud and regulatory investigations. We defend HNWs in the most complex and high-profile Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigations as well as those conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA), the Prudential Regulation Authority (the PRA), and the National Crime Agency (the NCA).
We also regularly assist our clients to anticipate external investigation by law enforcement by conducting internal investigations of behalf of their businesses where concerns arise about potential criminal or regulatory breaches.
Criminal investigation overseas can impact HNWs’ ability to travel freely, whether because of the risk of extradition or arrest on Interpol “Red Notices” (international notices issued to locate and provisionally arrest individuals with a view to extradition, surrender, or further legal action).
Our international private clients are diverse. Many originate from politically volatile regions where they are the subject of politically motivated proceedings that lead to asset freezes, unfounded investigations, and unfair convictions. We defend HNWs and public figures from extradition requests in numerous jurisdictions such as (but not limited to) Turkey, Russia, and other post-Soviet states.
We also represent our HNW clients in relation to Interpol, with a view to avoiding, challenging, and obtaining the removal of Red Notices. Such notices often foreshadow an extradition request (and may remain in place after the successful defence of an extradition request) and, without challenge, restrict the ability to travel freely.
- Crisis and Reputation Management
- Unwarranted Demands (including Blackmail and Extortion) and Data Threats
Crisis and Reputation Management
We provide reputation and crisis management services to HNWs in the public eye, always balancing legal and commercial outcomes. We are proactive from the outset and highly experienced in managing the media, controlling the release of information into the public domain, and ensuring minimum disruption to our clients’ personal and commercial lives and reputations.
Unwarranted Demands (including Blackmail and Extortion) and Data Threats
Attacks on the reputations of HNWs are private as often as they are public. We regularly fend off unwarranted demands such as blackmail and extortion before damage is done to HNWs and their families in public.
Our criminal and advisory expertise also includes resolving data and cyber security breaches.
- Acting for a family of PEPs (including the former Prime Minister of a foreign state) in relation to engagement with Interpol to remove and avoid Red Notices; to defend an application for a Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) restraint order over high-value real estate in London consequent upon conviction overseas; to defend High Court proceedings to place charging orders over the same London real estate; to anticipate any potential extradition requests; and to liaise with specialist immigration lawyers to provide necessary evidence in connection with our client’s immigration status in the UK.
- Acting for numerous HNWs and entertainment figures in relation to historic sexual allegations.
- Acting for numerous ultra-high net worth individuals affected by sanctions imposed in the UK, US, EU and other jurisdictions, including in relation to advising on the practical effects of sanctions on personal, professional and corporate obligations, and in relation to challenging the imposition of sanctions in multiple jurisdictions.
- Acting for the former head of an international bank in connection with the defence of politically motivated criminal proceedings against him in Russia, including engaging with Interpol to remove and avoid Red Notices; coordinating and managing lawyers in six European jurisdictions in connection with satellite criminal investigations and securing the release of frozen assets; preparing the defence of anticipated High Court civil proceedings in England to enforce a Russian civil judgment.
- Acting in numerous HMRC investigations into HNW clients, including in relation to issues arising from the transfer of assets overseas.
- Successful defence of extradition proceedings against a former Government Minister of a former Soviet state in connection with politically motivated allegations of fraud and abuse of office, first in relation to his attempted extradition from France and then in relation to extradition proceedings in England.
- Successfully quashing summonses against a former Prime Minister of the UK in respect of a private prosecution.
- Acting for oversees trustees in relation to a complex $650 million civil claim, and parallel criminal investigations, in a number of jurisdictions arising out of their alleged failure by trustees to comply with domestic court orders made in the context of one of UK’s largest divorce awards.
Chambers and Partners
- Financial Crime: High Net Worth Individuals – Band 1
- Financial Crime: Individuals (London) – Band 1
- Crime (London) – Band 1
- Proceeds of Crime Act Work & Asset Forfeiture (UK-wide) – Band 1
- Tax: Contentious: Fraud (UK-wide) – Band 1
The Legal 500
- Crime: General – Tier 1
- Fraud: White-Collar Crime – Tier 1
The Times Best Law Firms
- Financial Crime & Fraud & Regulatory – Leading Law Firm
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