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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69778
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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HiA couple of weeks ago I was arrested on a fraud charge,

Customer Question

Hi
A couple of weeks ago I was arrested on a fraud charge, I'm bailed until end of February.
About 2 years ago some friends set up a small business offering a service that managed the training budgets of companies, the companies would pay the quarterly budget upfront and then draw down as needed meaning they were able to use the full budget throughout the year without losing it each quarter, this was a service that my friends employers had stopped offering so they decided it would be an area they would work in, they were still employed when they first set it up and some of their clients wanted training buying from their employers so they asked if they could but me down as a contact at their business in case their employer ever needed to get in touch, I said yes figuring I was helping a friend start a small business, they asked me to sign a trading terms so they could set up the account to buy training and I heard nothing for about a year until their employer sent me an upgraded contract as they had spent £250k, I didn't sign this I just forwarded to my friend as one of them had left and was working on the business full time. During that first year I also had paid invoices for training sent to me but didn't keep them as my friend said they had electronic copies.
It now transpires that they weren't just buying training they were also set up as a supplier to there company, and infact they didn't have any clients of there own they were simply subcontracting the administration service to themselves from their employer, over the course of 18 months they transferred nearly £500k to their company to administrate and then bought the training back through their employer when the clients requested it.
I had no line of sight of this, I'm not a director of their company, I'm not on any of their bank accounts, over the 18 months I think they have earned about 100k from the business and they have given me £9810, which I have declared as income to hmrc.
It is a real business listed with hmrc that pays vat etc and they do have some clients of their own but clearly the way they have been operating it can easily be seen as abuse of position.
One of the guys left summer 2014, the other in January this year, it was at this point he told them that he had his own company and that they had been trading with them and he'd want to keep that going, clearly his employers didn't share his view!!!
They don't seem anywhere near as worried as me but I think it's obvious they are looking at jail time, what I would like to know is how could my involvement be viewed??
Apparently they have used my name in nearly all contacts with their employer, even creating an email address for me which I have never seen used or accessed.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ps, I told the police everything I knew under caution, as did one of my friends who confirmed I wasn't involved in running the business, the other friend no commented on solicitors advice.I was in interview for about 45 mins, my friends were in for about 5 hrs.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
How can I help with this please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I wanted to know how might involvement would be viewed and if I'm charged what I can expect
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
It depends if they accept your version of events. If they do you are not guilty.
However, I can see immediately here that there are other issues. Others involved in this have been using your name so the evidence does probably look stranger against you than it is.
In terms of what you would be facing, who has been defrauded here?
If you can give me that information I might be able to offer more.
Jo
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well I think their employer has been defrauded because my friends were working for them whilst running this own business and they were transferring business from their employer to themselves.I had nothing to do with any of transactions and actually had no idea they were taking place.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My friend under caution told the police he had sent the emails not me.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Fraud involving employer is very serious. They are facing custody if convicted I'm afraid.
Your liability would depend really on what they can prove you actually did. If they say you were involved in all of it then you face custody as well.
If it is more limited then probably not.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's definitely the case that I only ever signed the trading terms and replied to the email with the increased terms which I forwarded to my friend to sign.Like I said no access to bank accounts, not officially connected to the company as a director, I was paid £9810 over about 18 months but didn't do any work for it except be available to their employer if they needed something. I was absolutely unaware that they didn't have their own clients or that they were transferring money from their employer, I always thought all they were doing was buying training for their own clients.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
What did you think the £9810 was for?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For helping them out when they first started the business, and to be available if their employer needed to contact someone, which they only ever did when they sent the trading terms one which I signed and one that I passed to my friends,it wasn't a single payment it was paid over 18 months. When they had both left their employer I got a few more quid but then they stopped as they were both working full time on the business and they couldn't spare anything. I had no problem with that at all and was just grateful they had given me anything considering I didn't have to do much.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
And they my address to send the invoices from their employer.They were never late payment demands or anything showing money going to them.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello, are you still there?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi. Yes. Was there something else you wanted to know?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
You asked what I thought the 9810 was for and explained it the reply, I wanted know your thoughts on that.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi I don't think you've been getting questions in the replies.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
No, I haven't but we can get around that.
This really comes down to the facts of the case. If your account is accepted you are innocent.
If they are alleging that you were only involved to the value of £9810 then that does cross the custodial threshold but you would avoid it. If it is the bigger amount but your personal gain was on £9810 then that is different.
If you have a defence then I would concentrate on fighting the allegation.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi JoThanks for coming back to me, both my friends have now told the police that I did not know how the business truly operated and that I was unaware that they were directly receiving money from their employers. Hopefully this will have some impact on the case and the police will see I'm innocent.I suppose they could still charge me with false representation though for signing that contract and effectively helping my friends conceal their ownership of their business. What do you think?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
They could but didn't you think that was innocent too?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I knew they didn't want their employers to know they had started a business incase they got sacked for moonlighting, I didn't know how they would go on to trade with their company.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Did you get that reply?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
knew they didn't want their employers to know they had started a business incase they got sacked for moonlighting, I didn't know how they would go on to trade with their company.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
You could defend on that basis.
Obviously signing it off for them to commit fraud would be an offence.
That might just turn upon who was believed.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
All parties agree I did not know what they were doing, I had no line of sight of transactions, banking or the communications they were having with their employer.I suppose what I'm saying is I had no idea that a fraud was taking place but I'm worried that signing on their behalf and therefore assisting them in hiding their identity as business owner could be seen as a fraudulent act in and of itself.My genuine understanding was that it was a legitimate company.Btw do I need to do something to approve your answer for payment?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
If there isn't any evidence that you knew then it should all disappear into nothing.
The only way they could run it I suppose is to that it should have been obvious from the circumstances but that is grasping at straws really.
Just rate my answer whenever you ready.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69778
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
Jo C. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm sure the vast majority of evidence points to my explanation of events, plus the other 2 have agreed that and clearly they will be where the investigation focuses.Actually it's not obvious what was happening, to be honest I can't quite work it out myself even after talking with my friends.I'm pretty sure their employers are out to get them for it, as you'd expect and I'm collateral damage.Thanks for your help, you've put my frantic mind at rest somewhat.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
No problem and all the best.
Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jomo1972’.

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