Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Investigations;
Bribery, Corruption and Serious Fraud
“If the SFO comes knocking, here’s where to turn for help.”
The Times Best Law Firms
We have unparalleled experience advising business owners, company directors, senior executives, employees and companies in connection with Serious Fraud Office (SFO) bribery, corruption and serious fraud investigations. We are experienced in dealing with other agencies who also investigate and/or prosecute these matters, including the National Crime Agency (NCA), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), regional police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). We secure the best possible outcome for our clients, often meaning that, where they are suspects, they are not prosecuted and their involvement in the investigation never becomes public.
Our SFO experience dates back to their early Barlow Clowes, Maxwell and BCCI cases. We continue to be involved in many of the SFO’s major investigations and we have represented key individuals in their investigations into Airbus, ENRC, Tesco, British American Tobacco, GlaxoSmithKline, GPT Airbus, Petrofac, Rolls Royce, Unaoil, G4S, Serco, Barclays / Qatar, Kaupthing Bank / Tchenguiz, Standard Bank, Alstom, DePuy / Johnson & Johnson, Innospec and Libor and Euribor manipulation.
We also act for companies subject to SFO investigation and / or which are considering their self-reporting obligations.
We know the toll that being subject to investigation can take. Our team of specialist and skilled lawyers will provide an empathetic and supportive environment while working tirelessly for you to prepare your most effective response.
We provide beginning to end representation to guide you through the entire course of an investigation, including in connection with:
- Internal investigations conducted by a company alongside or ahead of a potential SFO investigation;
- dawn raids and searches of your home or business premises (including, where appropriate, judicial review challenges to the authorisation and/or conduct of searches);
- arrest, detention, and police station procedure;
- formal PACE interviews under caution with suspects;
- the impact on individuals of a company entering into, or seeking to negotiate, a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA);
- making representations against charge; and
- defending charges at trial, including preparation for and attendance at trial.
We are experienced in acting for witnesses in SFO investigations, and for companies or individuals requested to provide documents, including:
- section 2 interviews and section 2 notices (document production) under the SFO’s compulsory powers (section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987) or under similar information gathering powers exercised by other agencies;
- witness interviews and the preparation of witness statements; and
- the provision of witness testimony at trial.
Bribery, corruption and serious fraud investigations will often be cross-border. Our clients may be resident overseas and facing investigation in the UK, or face parallel investigations by agencies in multiple jurisdictions. In these cases we build a team of similarly expert lawyers in other jurisdictions to ensure strategic co-ordination which also takes into consideration other relevant factors such as the risk of extradition and asset forfeiture and restraint.
Examples of our instructions include:
- Successful defence of commercial director prosecuted by the SFO on £250 million fraud and false accounting charges arising from alleged profit overstatement; representation from initial engagement with company prior to SFO investigation through to successful submission of no case to answer at trial.
- Representing senior executive of global aerospace group in SFO corruption investigation; no charges brought following detailed representations. Concurrent engagement with US and Indian authorities.
- Acting for high-profile HNW businessman in successful judicial review challenge to legality of search warrants executed by the SFO at his home and business premises; no charges brought following detailed representations.
- Acting for senior executive of UK subsidiary of US multinational in concurrent SFO and US DoJ corruption investigations; successfully concluding co-operating defendant (“SOCPA”) agreement in the UK resulting in no prison sentence and non-prosecution agreement in the US. Subsequent successful defence of fraud and money laundering charges brought in follow on criminal proceedings in Greece.
- Representing senior lawyer at an international bank in SFO fraud investigation; no charges brought following detailed representations. Subsequent engagement in compelled interviews with FCA in relation to the same subject-matter.
- Acting for three senior executives of global plc in SFO section 2 (compelled) interviews and in relation to production of witness statements.
- Acting for senior in-house lawyer at a UK multinational company in SFO corruption investigation; no charges brought following engagement with the SFO.
- Acting for a senior executive of global bank in SFO corruption investigation; no charges brought following attendance at interview. Subsequent engagement concerning the impact of a DPA entered into by the company, and in relation to a separate regulatory investigation which also resulted in no action being taken.
BCL has long been top-ranked by the major legal directories in the area of Financial Crime and is currently ranked as follows:
- Band 1 – Chambers & Partners, Financial Crime (Individuals).
- Band 1 – Chambers & Partners, High Net Worth Individuals.
- Tier 1 – Legal 500: Fraud: White Collar Crime (Advice to Individuals).
- Leading Firm – The Time Best Law Firms: Financial Crime & Fraud & Regulatory.
- Top 100 investigations firms globally – GIR100.
What the directories say about us for this area:
“The team is highly qualified with huge levels of experience and knowledge.”
Chambers & Partners (2023)
“It is an excellent firm with a very responsive team that handles complex cases very well… Their services are top notch, and I certainly can warmly recommend.”
Chambers & Partners (2022)
“The team is completely on top of the detail and the lawyers all have a really good relationship with each other – they communicate brilliantly and each one of them brings different skills to the table.”
Chambers & Partners (2022)
“Very deep experience – the leading boutique specialising in individual criminal prosecutions. Massive experience in dealing with the SFO, the NCA, the CMA and the FCA. They have some of the leading white-collar partners and very committed hardworking associates, meaning the firm’s teams provide the highest-calibre representation across the board.“
Legal 500 (2021)
“Some of the leading white-collar partners and very committed hardworking associates’ and provides ‘the highest-calibre representation across the board.”
Legal 500 (2021)
“It is the firm of choice for anyone responding to a white-collar criminal investigation, and it has had notable successes in some of the most high-profile cases.“
Legal 500 (2020)
“They have a huge depth of experience of taking cases to trial. If you’re an individual charged with fraud, they’re one of the top firms to go to.”
Chambers & Partners (2020)
“BCL have been fighting and wining serious fraud cases for years, and it shows. They have huge reserves of talent and experience to draw on at all levels.”
Chambers & Partners (2019)
Cross Border Crime
The investigation and prosecution of business crime is progressively international in scope. Frequently, our clients face the prospect of having to deal with enforcement action taking place simultaneously in multiple jurisdictions by multiple agencies (both criminal and regulatory)…
Extradition & INTERPOL
We act for individuals in complex extradition and Interpol matters, both in standalone cases and in the wider context of cross border financial crime investigations.
BCL conducts internal investigations on behalf of corporates and other organisations concerned about potential criminal or regulatory breaches…