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Lawyers

This really is a story about money laundering. Stay with us: first, it's not at all a done deal that whatever happens in Brexit, UK lawyers will lose out for any reason except sentiment. Yes, long term, international recognition may be more complex but that could well turn out to be to the advantage of English (specifically, but perhaps one or two South Wales firms might be included) lawyers as their gene pool becomes less diluted. But everyone acknowledges that there should be some kind of hedge against that risk and so large firms are putting in place measures to be, in effect, dual citizens (not legally accurate, of course). Now Theresa May, in need of a win, has done something that will both assist UK lawyers and really, really get up the nose of those Eurocrats who are trying to frustrate the will of the UK people. And there's a not-to-well hidden benefit for British businesses outside the legal sector, too.

The news that judges, in London, have been charged with fraud is just part of a much larger problem. Alongside them are solicitors. The Metropolitan Police have been investigating what they describe as a "complex fraud team investigation." The case started after a court clerk reported suspicions of suspicious claims for state-funded payments under the Legal Aid Scheme. However, legal aid fraud has been a long-running problem in the legal system in England and Wales with criminal and immigration practitioners being most commonly reported.

The days of Easy Rider are numbered. Around the world, gangs of criminals on motorbikes (colloquially but (usually) legally incorrectly called Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs) have, quite simply, gone too far and as they have become the face of organised crime, usually in large, sparsely populated countries, they are being targeted. While the Hell's Angels have been held up as a model, the gangs are rarely truly members. But while, these days, many Hells Angels groups are filled with ageing lawyers, bankers and wannabe bad boys, the current crop have taken over the worst traits - and business practices, investing in businesses, property and with a raft of professional advisers on retainer. One regulator has had enough and put metaphorical chains on the doors of a law firm.

Case Summary: 

Phillip Eric de Figueiredo was a principal in the firm of Strachans based in Jersey and Switzerland. Along with Philip Egglishaw, de Figueiredo arranged for clients in Australia to dishonestly reduce the tax payable to the ATO by way of a number of arrangements. De Figueiredo was extradited from Jersey and eventually pleaded guilty to 2 conspiracies involving Australian clients.

Type of conduct: 
Tax fraud / evasion

The English High Court has named four solicitors who have fallen foul of the Court's requirements when issuing immigration appeals.

CoNet Section: 

Mexican company Grupo Mexico S.A.B. de C.V. is more than a little peeved. Its US subsidiary Americas Mining Corporation applied to the Delaware Supreme Court for "re-argument" as to legal fees in the case of Americas Mining Corporation, et al., v. Michael Theraiult, as Trustee for the Theriault Trust, No. 29, 2012. The court said "no" and in doing so has demonstrated the conflict of interest inherent in contingency fee ("no win, no fee") arrangements.

CoNet Section: 

Solicitors in England and Wales have been issued with a new Practice Note (a non-binding guidance) relating to the use of social media including sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It reveals a fascinating insight into the ways in which supposedly transient media can trip up the unwary, and not just lawyers.

CoNet Section: 

An anonymous posting, purporting to be by a solicitor in private practice, has appeared on the website of The Law Society's Gazette, the organ of the Law Society of England and Wales. If there was ever a reason to question the quality of the profession, this is probably high on the list.

CoNet Section: 

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati have appointed CHEN Wei Heng as partner in its Shanghai corporate and securities practice and co-head of the China practice.

CoNet Section: 

A US judge has removed one of the USA's largest law firms, Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, from representing First American Title Insurance Company in a class action suit. The firm, its partners and all other lawyers at the firm are injuncted against acting for the company in the litigation which raises questions about the migration of teams of lawyers and - perhaps even more importantly - what constitutes conflict.

CoNet Section: 

The Law Society of Singapore has announced a shake up in the training regime and measures to help those returning to practice and foreign lawyers seeking transfer in a bid to become a regional centre for law.

CoNet Section: 

When a court in Texas found in favour of a small Toronto based software company against Microsoft, the success was shared by the owners of the company - owners which include a specialist VC fund that buys into companies engaged in litigation.

CoNet Section: 

The Associated Law Societies of Canada have succeeded in their attempts to overturn some of Canada's requirements that lawyers report

From World Money Laundering Report Vol 1 No 1 - October 1999

WMLR examines the proposed legislation and concludes that in some respects it will undermine the existing UK Law.