Business crime can be associated with various offences committed by companies and individuals, such as fraud, embezzlement and money laundering. Also known as a financial, economic or white-collar crime, this type of offence is usually a non-violent one and involves illicit financial transactions through which a party enters in possession of money or other goods.
Apart from the three types of business crimes mentioned above, which are also some of the well-known ones, there are also other types of economic offences, among which we mention: counterfeiting, insider trader, blackmail, tax evasion, forgery, antitrust violations, corruption and investment frauds.
When it comes to trying financial crimes, each case is treated individually, therefore so should the defence be organized.
What penalties will those accused of business crimes face?
Before categorizing the penalties for a financial crime, it should be noted that even if the offence enters one of the types of crimes mentioned above, the way and the circumstances in which the money were obtained will weigh a lot in a court of law. In the UK, for example, there are two laws covering economic crimes: the Fraud Act and the Theft Act. To better exemplify, we will just say that, in the case of fraud, the law provides of several types of offences and the defence must be prepared in accordance with the circumstances and the gravity of the charges brought.
The penalties for a financial crime are fines and punitive damages for less severe offences and up to ten years of imprisonment for aggravating ones. The proceedings in an offence related to a financial crime will be carried out in a civil court of law in the UK. Compared to the US, there cannot be a class action suit in a financial crime committed in in the UK.
How to organize a defence in a case of financial crime?
Apart from the courts which will hear the case and pass the sentence, there are also other authorities which will investigate a business crime in the UK. The police force, the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority are the other three authorities in charge with proving the gravity of a white-collar offence.
Taking into account the severity of the offence, which can be assessed based on the authority investigating it, the defence solicitors will be able to start preparing for the case. The good news is that the UK law is usually in favor of bail when dealing with a financial crime. So, the first step for the defence lawyers would be to prepare for the hearings where bail has great chances of being granted. Following that, the defence can start preparing for the offences brought to the defendant.
What are the rights of a defendant accused of a financial crime?
The UK legislation provides for the legal advice privilege and the litigation privilege which will enable the accused and his/her lawyer to benefit from confidentiality when preparing the case. In case the defendant is arrested, he or she will have the right to confer with the solicitor in charge with the defence at any time during the proceedings. The accused will also have the right to silence in case he or she is in danger of self-incrimination.
As an example, one of the laws under which a person accused of a financial crime in the UK has the right to not disclose information about the offence. This law is the Money Laundering Regulations through which a defence solicitor can prove the defendant took all the necessary steps to prevent the crime from happening. Also, companies will usually have their set of regulations which cover cases where economic crimes could be committed.
When dealing with a white-collar crime, it is imperative for the defence lawyer or team of lawyers to know all the facts that led to the accusations, so they can prepare an appropriate case. Cooperating with the authorities will also be in the advantage of the defendant, as long he or she does not incriminate himself/herself. However, before being able to offer a suitable approach, the defence lawyers will need to gather all the evidence supporting the case.
Business crimes are quite complex ones and will require a lot of effort from the lawyers to win the cases, however a good cooperation with the accused party can result in a good outcome.