Narita Bahra

Narita Bahra

"She has excellent strategic oversight, particularly in multi-handed cases."

Legal 500 2016
Year of call: 1997
For enquiries please call: 020 7353 5324 or email vcard cv linkedin save

Business Crime & Financial Services

Narita has extensive experience in complex fraud and money laundering cases. Noted for handling fraud cases with an international dimension, particularly in South East Asia. Narita excels at distilling and explaining complex factual matrices to both clients and juries in a concise and clear manner.

Her areas of expertise include:

  • Anti-competitive conduct (cartels, market abuse, insider dealing)
  • Civil/commercial fraud
  • Fraudulent trading
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Revenue fraud
  • VAT/MTIC fraud

Narita is recognised as having vast and practical knowledge of the increasing prosecutions involving the Hawala banking system (an alternative unregulated remittance system running in parallel with the established regulated banking system). It is legal in some jurisdictions but illegal in others.

This is coupled with an excellent knowledge of ancillary proceedings, such as criminal confiscation, asset forfeiture and restraint law.

Narita is increasingly instructed in quasi-criminal and regulatory proceedings. She represents professionals such as accountants, financial advisors and solicitors, as well as senior executives, facing charges relating to dishonesty or corruption in business practices.

Cases

HMRC v LM

Narita led Chris Ware and Joshua Carey to defend a complex and unusual joint HMRC and Police investigation in which it was alleged that tax evasion emanated from mobile phone theft through companies. This involved consideration of a vast amount of evidence and complex issues of taxation law as well as the Crown Court’s jurisdiction to interfere with and decide matters that ordinarily fall solely to be determined by the First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber).

HMRC v PL

Narita’s client was a businessman, charged alongside 10 co-defendants with being knowingly involved in a conspiracy to evade excise duty on diesel fuel on a large national scale. The HMRC investigation of these allegations spanned over four years. Laundering involved red diesel, meant for use by agricultural and other off-road vehicles. To help farmers, the tax on this type of fuel is much lower than on regular diesel and it’s dyed red and treated with chemicals so that it can be easily detected. The prosecution alleged that red diesel was stolen in huge quantities and then a variety of methods were deployed to launder, eradicate the red dye and other chemical markers, including filtering the coloured fuel through charcoal or more bizarrely cat litter. The case collapsed following disclosure failings.

R v O

The prosecution alleged that Narita’s client was one of three males who played a Leading role in this serious organised offence, involving eight co-defendants. The organisation unwittingly used Easyworld International Money Exchange Bureaus to launder in excess of £78 million. The police uncovered a factory based in London at which the funds were being laundered.

Narita was able to limit her client’s accepted involvement to a figure below £1.5 million.

Operation Kadenza

Narita acted for Z who was a Barclays employee. The Crown alleged that he had opened 144 fraudulent accounts enabling over three million pounds to be laundered, as well as passing on sensitive details to those committing the Cyber Fraud in Operation Kadenza in excess of £113 million.

After 2 years the prosecution offered no evidence and Not Guilty verdicts were entered on two counts of conspiracy to defraud and money launder in the main Operation Kadenza Fraud, as the Prosecution were unable to substantiate the tenuous link between the main conspirators and Narita’s client.

Z pleaded guilty to one count of entering into an arrangement which facilitated the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property, contrary to section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, limiting his involvement to £1.5 million pounds.

R v Chaudhari

Narita and Joshua Carey instructed to represent a Director in a European Union Match Funding Conspiracy to Defraud in excess of a million pounds. The client, along with her brother and his former Director, are accused of having conspired to commit fraud against the Home Office by preparing paperwork to demonstrate implementation of learning activities for third country nationals to assist in integrating them into the community for which the Home Office would provide grants to facilitate those activities.

R v G 

Narita secures an acquittal for client charged with Money Laundering in excess £500 000. Unusually, Narita was instructed three years post charge and after four previous defence teams. Deploying an understanding of Islamic Banking (Sharia compliant finance) and instructing a Forensic Accountant successfully enabled the jury to understand and identify gaps in the complex prosecution case.

Sharia prohibits acceptance of specific interest or fees for loans of money, whether the payment is fixed or floating. Sharia compliant UK financial institutions, which have been growing faster than banking assets as a whole, played a significant role in the trial.

R v Shah

Defended in an eight handed Conspiracy to commit visa fraud. The case involved eight defendants charged with a multi million pound fraud emanating from hiding assets via money loops to misuse the visa application system. The case involved cross-examining forensic accountants. Narita successfully prevented the Crown from seeking to add additional counts at the outset of the Trial and successfully defended the Crown’s application to Voluntary Bill these additional charges in the High Court. This case involved a series of public interest immunity applications.

R v Champaneri

Narita as leading counsel defended the first defendant in a nineteen handed conspiracy to commit fraud at Southwark Crown Court. The case related to abusing protection offered by Banks and Credit Card companies. The Crown alleged that Narita’s client was the orchestrator and puppeteer of the conspiracy. Narita was instructed imminently prior to the commencement of the trial. The case involved mastering in excess of 26 000 pages of evidence and anticipating the cut -throat defences run on behalf of many co-defendants. Narita was required to undertake careful consideration of the strength of the evidence and tactical decisions regarding the approach to be adopted regarding presentation of the case. Cross-examination of forensic accountants and expert witnesses was undertaken.

R v Shah & Mehrpoor

Narita was instructed as junior Counsel to Martin Hicks QC in what was described by the Serious Organised Crime Agency as, “The largest importation of heroin into the United Kingdom from the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan and Afghanistan”. The client was described as “an international drug smuggler of the highest order”. The street value of the drugs was in excess of £103.2 million and money-laundering allegations against the client were valued at £12 million. A Hawala defence was advanced at trial which set out that their client’s financial affairs represented legitimate financial transactions executed in the form of Hawala banking. Narita worked very closely with the expert witnesses who conceded they were dealing with novel issues of banking and law in this case.

R v Sakha

This ten defendant case involved a conspiracy to defraud the Oxfordshire Police and Pervert the Course of Justice. The Prosecution unusually offered no evidence against Narita’s client at the conclusion of her evidence in chief and prior to cross- examination commencing. The trial continued for all other co-defendants. This unusual outcome was according to the trial judge “as a result of Miss Bahra’s dogged and skillful approach to disclosure”.

R v Poole

Defended the finance director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra of a fraud in excess of 2.3 million pounds and dealt with all ancillary confiscation matters.

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