We were instructed to prepare an expert accounting report on behalf of a Defendant (previously convicted for being involved in professional money laundering) in relation to an assessment of benefits hearing under Section 16(3) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The Defendant had created multiple identities and had opened over 100 bank accounts. The Prosecution had done their usual job of including nearly every credit in some 15,000 bank entries. Their total benefit figure came to some £8m. The Prosecution had provided endless schedules of figures (not on Excel Spreadsheets).
In our report we were able to identify all the inter-account transfers (no mean feat across over 100 accounts), items that matched up in terms of date and value but which could not be exactly identified as cash and cheques had regularly been banked together, as well as inconsistencies in the Prosecution’s presentation of the case. The Prosecution accepted most of our adjustments to their figures.
We were hampered by fact that we did not receive all of the Defendant’s bank statements referred to in the Prosecution’s report, as not all of these were disclosed, as well as the fact that the Defendant had admitted to being part of a conspiracy of some £1.2m. Therefore, even though we had hoped that our detailed analysis would reduce the benefit to well under £1m, we could not reduce the benefit below the confessed amount.
An interesting feature of this case was the response to our report by the Prosecution. Despite some unhelpful comments from the judge in passing, the Prosecution had accepted virtually all of our figures. We were only restricted due to the lack of all the bank statements (despite having been provided with several thousand copies) and the confession of the Defendant.
The result was appreciated by the Defendant and his legal team. He is a relatively young man for whom the benefit figure was not merely an academic exercise but a burden he took very seriously. Under the circumstances we were able to get it as low as was reasonably possible.