Opus Cases

Opus Law Cement Their Role as Confiscation Experts.

Mohammad Asif has undertaken a number of recent difficult and complex Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation cases and cemented his role as a market leader in this field. An example of two cases can be seen below.

R v A –  A was charged with a Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs along with 6 others. A received a sentence of 4 years’ imprisonment following an early guilty plea. The prosecution proceeded to confiscation proceedings and alleged a benefit figure in excess of £1 million. Mohammad Asif  successfully argued that the benefit figure should be reduced to £9,500 to reflect the role played by A despite the existence of contradictory case law. The available amount was set at nil.

R v A – Mohammad Asif represents A in Confiscation Proceedings. The prosecution alleged hidden assets and a total available amount of £9.7 million. Asif successfully argued the assertion of hidden assets and also reduced the drugs valuation from £5.7 million to £1 million with the assistance of a drugs expert. Asif successfully argued that the defendant did not own property in the UAE valued at £500,000 and managed to exclude several large money transfers from the Confiscation case. A felt he would have received a default sentence of 10 years if it had not been for the work of Asif.

NOT GUILTY. Acquittal in Mortgage Fraud Case.

Mohammad Asif represented B who was charged with several counts of mortgage fraud exceeding £1million. B was a successful property developer and landlord who strongly denied the offences. Following many hours of proactive defence work and the service of a Forensic Accountants report, the prosecution offered no evidence on the first day of trial. Formal not guilty verdicts were returned by the Court. Opus Law successfully argued that reporting restrictions should be in place at the outset of this case meaning there was no detrimental impact upon B’s successful property business.

Mortgage Fraudster Avoids Further Sentence and Confiscation.

Mohammad Asif represented W, a convicted drug dealer already serving 10 years for being the head of a £42 million Class A drugs conspiracy. He was instructed to represent W in respect of several high value Mortgage Fraud offences only. Following lengthy discussions with the prosecution, W admitted 4 fraud offences and received a sentence of 18 months which we successfully argued should run concurrently to the 10 year sentence he was already serving. W therefore received no further prison time for these high value offences and also avoided confiscation proceedings in respect of the mortgage fraud offences.
http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/jarrow-drugs-kingpin-used-vast-9378269

B Avoids Jail For Role in Small Business Fraud.

Fifteen defendants were charged in Operation Tango which came before the Preston Crown Court. Ben Jones, Partner, was instructed by B.

Over a period of eighteen months frauds were perpetrated on small businesses. Typically the fraud involved small businesses being contacted by a person claiming to be an official from the High Court. They demanded money for unpaid internet advertising debts that did not exist. Most complainants, threatened with immediate repossession, simply paid the debt. This subsequently had a detrimental effect on their business, in some cases a dramatic effect as their businesses went under. Over £100,000 was obtained in this way.

The fraudulently obtained monies were then laundered through personal and business accounts.

Following a guilty plea to laundering offences only, B was sentenced to a community penalty, despite the severity of the charges and the fact many of his co-accused received lengthy custodial sentences.

http://lancashire.police.uk/news/2016/july/east-lancashire-group-jailed-for-fraud-network.aspx

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-36726224

NOT GUILTY. C Acquitted of Banking Fraud.

Sarah Batty , Partner, represented C who was charged with large scale banking fraud and money laundering. The voluminous case was meticulously prepared for trial and a jury were sworn at the Leeds Crown court. Following persuasive submissions at the end of the Prosecution case the Judge directed the jury to enter verdicts of not guilty against S.

 Aron Rollins of Carmelite Chambers was instructed as Counsel for C.

NOT GUILTY. I Acquitted of Modern Slavery Charges.

Ben Jones, Partner, was instructed by I, a successful businessman of many years who faced the devastation of being raided, arrested, charged and tried for serious allegations of modern slavery.

As  is often the case he also needed advice and assistance when his personal and business accounts were frozen by a restraint order.

The allegations, that involved three co-accused, were prosecuted as Operation Retriever. The case was concluded following an six week trial at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester with verdicts of NOT GUILTY.

Those verdicts were obtained due to considered and driven pro-active defence work being undertaken for our client. No stone was left unturned in ensuring that our client, of previous good character, remained unblemished by the allegations.  Expert London counsel were instructed and ensured the extensive preparation was not wasted by using their advocacy skills to skillfully deploy the defence points when appropriate throughout the trial.

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/four-accused-running-illegal-rochdale-11477936

Opus Law Instructed in Baby Kidnap Plot Case

Ben Jones and Lisa Julian, Partners, were both instructed in this unusual and difficult case. From arrest at the police station to the final sentence hearing, we advised and assisted K throughout this prosecution involving a highly unusual set of facts.

The case was complex and required careful case management in the representation of our client who was a youth at the time of the offence. All avenues were explored as we built a strong case in mitigation. Opus Law utilised its skills and resources to obtain relevant reports that were placed before the court. The case shows our dedication and capability to represent vulnerable youths who find themselves charged with the most serious of crimes.

Due to the serious nature of this case, Miss Elaine Stapleton of Carmelite Chambers was instructed as counsel.

This case has, unsurprisingly,  already attracted a vast amount of coverage in the  national press:

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/672383/Teenage-girls-Holly-Kelland-Codie-Farrar-jailed-trying-kidnap-babies

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/two-teenage-girls-detained-over-facebook-baby-kidnap-plot-holly-kelland-codie-farrar-a7040856.html

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/517181/Teenage-girls-Facebook-baby-kidnap-plot-Holly-Kelland-Codie-Farrar-jailed

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-36345569

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3600981/Two-girls-aged-17-18-jailed-trying-kidnap-babies-luring-mothers-fake-Facebook-page-offering-free-children-s-clothes.html

B Avoids Prison Despite £114,000 Benefit Fraud

Sarah Batty, Partner,  represented B who was charged with a large scale benefit fraud. The prosecution alleged her gain to be in  the region of £114,000 following false benefit claims made over some 8 years. Having finally admitted her guilt on the day of trial, defence Counsel was able to successfully obtain a Goodyear Direction such that B would not receive an immediate custodial sentence. Nor did her conviction result in a Confiscation Order being imposed.

NOT GUILTY. M Acquitted of Serious Fraud Charges.

Ben Jones, Partner, was instructed by M when he faced serious fraud charges before the Bradford Crown Court.

The case concerned a fraud carried out upon a firm of conveyancing solicitors, whose computer system was hacked into by some means; as a result a payment in excess of £150,000 which was intended for a client of the firm was in fact sent to a fraudsters account. The money was then layered in accounts across the country.  Our client was charged with 6 others as being an instrumental player in the fraud.

The case was dramatically halted on the fifth day of trial when Ben Jones uncovered vital evidence about an address in the case that was said to be controlled by our client. Following meticulous investigative work in tracing home occupiers, landlords, letting agents and web research, it was discovered that an uncharged convicted fraudster had control of the address at the pertinent time. Also, the prosecution hand writing expert was challenged and this evidence was weakened.  This casting significant doubt over the prosecution allegations and supporting our clients defence.

The prosecution case began to unravel and eventually they were forced to concede that the only option available to the court was to direct the jury to return not guilty verdicts. This was a result that was achieved by proactive defence work that many firms simply would not have undertaken. Our extensive knowledge of defending fraud cases allowed us to attack the pertinent issues in the case as and when they arose, which in this case was on day 5 of the trial.

NOT GUILTY. D Found Not Guilty Of Money Laundering

Ben Jones acted for D who appeared at the Crown Court charged with money laundering.

D was stopped by the police driving a vehicle. The vehicle passenger footwell contained a black bin liner. The contents of which revealed two plastic boxes containing £133,000. The prosecution case was that this sum was criminal property, namely the concealment (the evidence showing it had previously been buried), and thereafter possession when it was moved in the vehicle.They therefore charged the defendant with money laundering. Not guilty pleas were entered and the matter proceeded to trial.

A successful application of no case to answer was made at the conclusion of the prosecution case. Not guilty verdicts were therefore recorded.  The judge did not accept that the circumstances in which the property was handled give rise to the irresistible inference that the money can only be derived from crime.

Following persuasive submissions the Judge agreed that there was nothing suspicious in the way the cash was being transported. The prosecution submission that the sheer quantity of cash led to an inference of guilt was described by the Judge as “a fallacious submission”.

Sarah Barlow of Exchange Chambers was instructed as counsel for D.

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