Blowing the whistle on fraudulent practices at your company can be a challenging step to take.
Doing so can have serious repercussions for your firm in the form of investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), or other regulatory bodies. Even if this type of action is not forthcoming, highlighting illegal practices can have a substantial impact on your business's reputation and trading activity.
The Fraud Team at Wilford Smith, with many years of experience advising clients who wish to draw attention to fraudulent practices or who have already done so, can offer clear, strategic and straightforward advice. We can offer guidance on the protections available to whistleblowers in England and Wales, how to go about making a disclosure, and the potential consequences for employers. Contact one of our solicitors today to find out how we can help.
Why do companies blow the whistle on fraudulent practices?
Companies will often choose to draw the attention of the SFO to fraudulent practices, referred to as self-reporting, in the hope of avoiding prosecutions, or in order to reach agreement on a reduction in terms of penalties that may result from illegal activities. It is within the powers of the SFO to choose not to pursue prosecutions in cases where a company itself has reported violations, although there is no guarantee that this will happen. Any non-prosecution deal will only cover activities that the company has chosen to disclose – if a subsequent investigation by the SFO uncovers other illegal activities a prosecution will likely result. The nature of the disclosure, i.e. the extent of the information reported to the SFO and the time at which this was done, will be of vital importance if a non-prosecution deal is being sought. Getting the best possible legal advice as soon as you become aware of fraudulent practices will be crucial.
What is a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA)?
A Deferred Prosecution Agreement is reached between a company and a prosecuting authority, such as the SFO or the Director of Public Prosecutions, whereby the prosecuting authority commits to not bringing criminal proceedings on the grounds that the company successfully complies with certain conditions relating to the offences that have been committed. This might mean that the company is required to pay a fine, to agree to particular compliance measures in the future, or to pay compensation to those detrimentally affected by its fraudulent practices. DPAs are only applicable to certain types of offences. These include economic crimes such as bribery, fraud, particular categories of theft and money laundering offences.
If you or your company are considering entering into a DPA, it is essential that you seek expert legal advice to ensure your position is protected. To successfully obtain a DPA you will be required to demonstrate that investigations have been properly carried out, and to appropriately and timeously disclose your findings to the prosecuting authority in question. Wilford Smith's expert Fraud Lawyers are renowned for their skills in negotiation and advocacy, and we have extensive experience in dealing with SFO investigations. With many years of experience representing clients in high profile cases involving financial crime, our lawyers are excellently placed to provide exceptional representation and to get the best result for you.
How can Wilford Smith's Fraud Solicitors support in making a disclosure?
Our Whistleblowing Lawyers can support you in making initial contact with the SFO's Intelligence Unit, which handles whistleblowing and self-reporting cases. We can assist in the production of hard copy reports detailing your company's internal investigations and findings, ensuring appropriate supporting evidence is provided such as emails, witness statements and banking evidence is included. If internal investigations are ongoing, our Fraud Solicitors will advise in relation to identifying and providing the SFO with additional supporting evidence promptly and effectively.
Contact our Whistleblowing Solicitors Sheffield and London
Wilford Smith's experienced Fraud Solicitors are committed to providing a high-level service for our clients, supporting you to make the best decisions from the earliest stage of the whistleblowing process. The process of making a disclosure can be complex, and you will need the best possible legal expertise to ensure that your position is best protected and that negotiations proceed effectively after you have contacted investigators. Our solicitors take pride in their reputation for unique representation, giving our clients a service that is exceptionally strategic and results driven, and are able to attract the highest calibre barristers to provide support when necessary.
Our Whistleblowing Solicitors are based in Sheffield and London and assist clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 01709 828 044 to find out how we can help.