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Owing to the wide range of conduct embraced by this offence, this is an increasingly popular charge for prosecutors challenging company owners & directors. Fraudulent trading involves the carrying out of a business with the intention of defrauding creditors or any other person for any fraudulent purpose.

This charge will typically be made after a company is wound up. Often the business has failed, and at the core of the charge, the facts are that it may well be down to bad management rather than criminal intent.

For the person accused or charged with fraudulent trading, it can be very alarming. They will wonder if they will be imprisoned and what that may do to their relationships and familial bonds. Will they be expected to pay a fine and leave their dependents in a financial predicament of not being able to afford a mortgage or rent payments, food and utility bills; let alone live the life that they may have grown accustomed to.

In order for you to learn more about this offence and what might be involved during the investigation phase and beyond, we have put together this guide. We aim to support you during this challenging time.

Have you been arrested or charged with Fraudulent trading?

If you or somebody close to you has been charged or arrested in connection to fraudulent trading, you will probably be feeling very stressed, confused, worried and concerned about what’s going to happen.

It’s vital that you take the guidance of an experienced and competent fraud solicitor. They will ideally be able to view the financial records of the business. It’s likely that a forensic accountant is given the role of drafting a report to provide support to the defence.

It’s possible that the directors of the business were looking to ensure that the business survived and therefore made some wrong judgements and decisions. The managers may not have been aware of the financial position of the company and the inability to pay. They may have been naïve about the potential of the business with regards to growth.

Many entrepreneurs are overly optimistic about their business and they may have overspent, hoping that they would be able to reclaim the expenditure through sales. Only when these decisions are taken dishonestly can they be accused of fraudulent trading.

What type of actions are considered Fraudulent trading?

Investigations into fraudulent trading will often be instigated by the police or other government agencies such as the Organised Crime Agency receiving complaints by creditors who have lost money. Typically a business will stop trading; it will disappear altogether or go into liquidation leaving debts that need to be paid.  In some cases, failed businesses will simply have continued to trade and buy on credit accounts when they should have brought their operations to a halt.

In some cases, a business will have been set up purely to defraud; this is known as ‘long firm fraud’. These businesses will typically buy electronic products or white goods that they can quickly and easily sell. They may create credit accounts that they initially maintain so as to build trust. They will then buy large quantities of goods and then disappear.

There is also the ‘short firm fraud’ situation where a business won’t even attempt to build trust, they will immediately buy as much as they can using credit and then disappear with the goods.

Instruct a legal professional as soon as possible

Whether you are accused of being part of a company set up specifically for fraudulent objectives or you are running a legitimate business and accused of dishonest acts; the Fraud Solicitors at this firm have the proficiency in articulating the best strategy and securing the highest chances of success for you.

Cases of this nature often involve numerous defendants and substantial volumes of evidence, requiring the expertise of meticulous and analytical lawyers. Our fraud solicitors will scrutinise the prosecution’s evidence to identify weaknesses and otherwise missing evidence. We will challenge unlawfully obtained evidence and evidence which is prevented from being admitted in the court by law.

Time and time again we have successfully defended and secured acquittals for those engaged in business. Regardless of the nature of your company and the nature of the acts alleged, the key factor in prosecutions of this nature is that the business was involved in some degree of dishonesty and that you, as a key figure in the company were intentionally involved.

English laws in the fraud field can be confusing and difficult to understand. By working with an experienced and competent fraud solicitor, you’ll be setting yourself up for a better chance at success.

Can the police search my home?

If the police suspect that you defrauded creditors with intent, whoever is aware of this activity will be considered to be committing an offence. The police will request a search warrant from the courts in order to visit your home, workplace and potentially to search your vehicle to secure evidence to use against you in securing your conviction.

Could you go to prison for Fraudulent Trading?

Fraudulent trading is considered a serious offence which will typically result in a prison sentence. It is for the jury to decide whether you acted dishonestly. Even if your solicitor tells the court that you were not being dishonest, the final judgement will be from the jury.

Typically it’s the people who control or manage the business that will ultimately be held responsible. However, junior staff members may also be charged with aiding and abetting the offence.

We handle fraudulent trading cases regularly and have deep expertise in this field. We can help you by recommending the best course of action to take to mitigate the outcome. No matter what size your case is, get in touch.

What type of sentence could you get for Fraudulent Trading?

Depending on what you are charged with, the maximum sentence for this offence is ten years in prison. For offences that took place before January 15th 2007, the maximum sentence will be seven years.

The maximum sentences will only be issued when there has been reckless and blatant offending that involves a large amount of money. When it comes to smaller offences, a sentence is likely to be between one and three years.  Read more information about sentencing for Fraudulent Trading

What mitigating factors may be considered in sentencing?

When sentencing for this offence, your case will be examined closely. If you have already been previously convicted for this or another offence, then it’s likely that you’ll get a stiffer sentence than if you haven’t been. What your role was in the offence will also be considered.

If a company has been hit by unforeseen circumstances, then a judge may be more forgiving. For instance, if a business had every intention of paying the money owed, but unexpected financial obligations made it impossible to do so, a judge may be more sympathetic.

Does a conviction for Fraudulent Trading go on your criminal record?

If your fraudulent trading case progresses to court and you are convicted of fraud, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The length of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of the sentence imposed.

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

Proving intention is the duty of the prosecutors who are absent of the exact knowledge of the nature of your business and its daily affairs. We explore the circumstances surrounding your case fully and always seek to defend on the front foot. We will work with you to understand the activities of your business, speak to those who will positively affirm your case and trawl through your records to identify material which will help present your case in your favour. Our fraud lawyers will create a defence strategy to fight your case and collect evidence, witness statements and other material which will support your account of the events.

If your bank accounts have been restricted with restraint orders or freezing orders, we will act promptly to defend your position and remove the encumbrances which could signal the demise of your business. Rest assured we have access to the best barristers and QCs, forensic accountants, scientific analysts and a huge range of business-related experts who can be called upon to work with us.

Our fraud solicitors will advise on the potential impact on your family members, employees or acquaintances. If money was transferred to any other person, absent credible commercial reasons, our fraud solicitors will be able to advise on any money laundering implications and those affecting your standing with HMRC and tax evasion issues.

Our Fraud Solicitors can help

When you are involved in a case of this nature, it’s critical that fraud solicitors examine the background of the case. This will aid the legal team in building a strong defence for the client to be used during the trial. It will mean looking through your business transactions, bank records and receipts.

Getting to know the client well can make all the difference in being able to represent the client fairly and well. Being able to sell the client to the jury can influence the emotions of the jury. If they like the client, they are far more likely to be lenient with their judgement of the client. They may view the client as being naïve rather than dishonest, and then find them not guilty.

Booking a free consultation with our Fraud Solicitors

Taking early and swift action is important in securing success in any legal case. These types of cases can be intimidating and being given guidance at every turn can make the difference between success and failure.

Everything you say and every decision you make will potentially shape your future and that of your loved ones. We, therefore, offer a free initial consultation regardless of your means. This allows you to get to know us and us to get to know you.

Please contact our fraud lawyers to arrange your meeting, whether face to face, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can also send us a WhatsApp message using the link in the bottom banner if you are viewing this page on a mobile phone device.

Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?

If you’d like to have a no obligation chat with us before you instruct us to take your case, then contact us or call us today on 0208 888 5225.

In addition to giving you a free consultation, we can also represent you at the police station if you’ve been arrested or invited for a police interview. We can also look into securing your legal aid.

Whether you prefer a face to face meeting or a telephone call, we can help. There is also a WhatsApp link on this page if that is your preference.


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