News Business Crime & Financial Services 23rd Nov 2017

Andrew Radcliffe QC Secures Acquittal in Op Amazon After 10 Month Trial

Andrew Radcliffe QC represented a 65 year old Chartered Accountant who was acquitted after the jury failed to agree and the Prosecution offered no further evidence following a 10 month trial at Southwark Crown Court. He had been arrested in July 2007 and charged in 2010.

Five co-defendants were convicted by the jury and one other was acquitted. Op Amazon involved the prosecution of the defendants on allegations of conspiracy to cheat the Revenue where the potential loss to HMRC was over £107m.

The prosecution alleged a sophisticated, dishonest scheme whereby high net worth individuals were induced to provide substantial sums of money that were to be invested in international reforestation programmes, generating claims for the investors for sideways loss tax relief against income tax.

The mechanics of the overall fraud alleged included projects in Brazil and China, the incorporation of companies in jurisdictions such as BVI, Isle of Man and Holland, the creation of trusts in Mauritius and Switzerland and the setting up or use of bank accounts variously in Switzerland, Isle of Man, Cyprus and elsewhere.

The ‘paperless’ trial was presented electronically throughout, including via the use of iPads provided to the jury, counsel and solicitors.

Preliminary matters where, pre trial, the Court of Appeal gave authoritative guidance on the proper approach to disclosure in criminal proceedings involving large quantities of documents, particularly those held electronically, are reported at R v R and others [2016] 1 Cr App R 20. Following the verdicts, this will now be reported under its unredacted name – “R v Richards and others

Andrew Radcliffe was instructed by Fiona Gavriel of Bark & Co.

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