Client accused of laundering £1 million - Not Guilty

Not guilty verdict - client exonerated

Date posted: 06 Dec 2022

London

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Crown Court

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Case start date

17 Oct 2022

Significance

Moderate

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Case study summary

Our client was accused, along with two others, of using the luxury store, Bulgari, to launder £1 million. After five years of investigation, we were able to prove that our client had never been dishonest, and they were found not guilty following a two-week trial.

Case study

Our client was a young woman working as a sales assistant for the luxury brand, Bulgari. Having spent years earning qualifications, including gemmology, she had worked tirelessly to earn a position in this global brand. After two years with the brand, she was accused of using her trusted position to launder criminal proceeds with the help of two female customers. Together, it was alleged that they laundered a total of 1 million pounds.

When our client contacted our firm, having previously instructed another solicitor, she expressed concern for the allegations against her. She knew they were serious and needed the help of specialist fraud lawyers. This is why she made the decision to instruct us.

Before our work began, the investigation against our client had already been ongoing for three years. She had been restricted from travel and was placed under other similarly strict bail conditions. For someone who was certain of her innocence, this took a great toll on her mental health. This was something that remained at the forefront of our minds knowing that proceedings would only become harder.

The prosecution case was that our client had used her role within the store to process high value orders requested by her co-defendants. Each could amount to tens of thousands of pounds which meant that the overall amount laundered built up quickly. We were given invoices marked as being processed by our client. The prosecution also served thousands of text messages allegedly showing discussion of how this criminal activity would be carried out. At first, given the multiple strands of evidence, it appeared a strong prosecution case had been served. However, with clear instructions that she was innocent, we set out to closely examine each page in our client's case.

We spent hours working with our client to understand the operations within the store. Unlike most retail brands, Bulgari thrived off of its high-profile clients and so it was common for our client to process high value sales. It was not uncommon for a single item to cost at least £10,000.

From here, we built a timeline of our client's work to be able to show the jury that her co-defendants were not the only people spending vast amounts of money. Our client would frequently attend dinners, charity events and other social occasions to maintain the professional relationship with her clients. The two females she was charged with were in fact some of her lowest spending customers. Our client made it clear that the jury had to understand this, so they were not shocked by the high values associated with her case.

We also worked with a mandarin interpreter to translate the thousands of messages served to us. Our client was dedicated in providing explanations for each problematic message so we could show the jury a different side to that given by the prosecution.

After just over a year of conferences, translations and tirelessly working to be able to present a case that the jury could visualise, the trial began on Monday 3rd October 2022.

We instructed an expert barrister who is known for his work within fraud offences. He worked closely with us and our client to ensure she was confident when giving her evidence at trial. Through no fault of her own, our client's trial began without the other two co-defendants. Whilst there was pressure to prevent our client's trial starting, we were adamant that our client could not wait a day more. Her mental health was declining, and it was crucial that we did all we could for her.

Thankfully, the trial went ahead and after two weeks, she was acquitted by a majority decision. After what had been the most turbulent five years of her life, our client was able to leave court that day as a free woman - the very reality she had been working with us to prove. She and her family are now working to return to the normality they had before this all began.


Profile image of Mary Monson Solicitors criminal lawyer Caitlin Watson-Scoley

Caitlin Watson-Scoley

Trainee Solicitor

Caitlin joined the firm in 2021 and has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in law. She works in our London office on serious criminal and fraud cases. She is motivated by the chance of providing support and guidance to clients who often need it.

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