The terms white collar crime and corporate crime are often used interchangeably and there are situations where conduct can fall into both categories.
These types of cases require highly experienced and knowledgeable white collar and corporate crime lawyers who understand the issues faced by those responsible for compliance, as well as those who are under investigation or accused of offences, and are able to efficiently and effectively deliver positive outcomes.
The Difference Between White Collar and Corporate Crime
White collar crime is generally carried out by individuals against, or in the context of associations with, corporations or businesses for the individual’s personal gain, whereas corporate crime is engaged in by a company’s directors, employees or agents for the benefit of the company.
White Collar Criminal Offences
Offences that are generally considered white collar crimes include tax fraud (knowingly making a false representation to the ATO), tax evasion (which many include omitting income from a tax return or wrongly claiming a deduction), Centrelink fraud, insurance fraud, identity theft, embezzlement, larceny by a clerk or servant, insider trading, blackmail, bribery, money laundering and dealing in proceeds of crime.
These are usually committed by individuals against, or in the context of relationships with, companies and other businesses or organisations, for personal gain.
Corporate Criminal Offences
Corporate crimes include cartel activity, market manipulation, environmental crimes, false advertising and breaches of regulatory requirements.
These are usually committed by the directors, employees or agents of companies for the benefit of the company.
Corporate compliance requires that companies comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
A company’s compliance program is intended to guard against, detect and address prevent or detect breaches of the rules, from those which apply to all companies such as rules and regulations in company, anti-money laundering and criminal legislation to industry-specific rules and regulations.
Companies throughout Australia have made compliance a leading priority in recent times, as various legislative changes have created an increasingly robust regulatory environment.
Regulators such as the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) and the Australian Tax Office have all seen substantial increases in their powers.
They have in turn become more active in their capacity as investigating and prosecuting authorities, bringing an increasing number of investigations and enforcement proceedings involving corporate crime and compliance matters.
Implementing and regularly reviewing an informed compliance program can significantly reduce the risk of companies and those responsible for them finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, and thereby being pulled away from what’s important and even potentially facing criminal prosecution.
If you or your company is facing an investigation or prosecution for white collar or corporate crime, it is crucial to engage lawyers with a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory environment, as well as extensive experience in the field.
Sydney’s Leading White Collar and Corporate Crime Lawyers
The legal team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers is vastly experienced in advising and representing clients for both investigations and alleged white collar and corporate offences.
Our white collar and corporate criminal lawyers regularly assist small to large multi-national companies to comply with their regulatory requirements in extremely complex reviews, make submissions on behalf of companies which lead to favourable resolutions, as well as use our vast criminal defence experience to produce exceptional results for individuals and companies charged with serious white collar and corporate crimes,
So call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and take advantage of our pro-active, results-focused, effective approach to white collar and corporate crime and compliance matters.
Types of White Collar and Corporate Criminal Offences
The Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) is a piece of legislation that applies across Australia and contains a range of offences intended to prevent those who are in financial trouble or have been declared bankrupt from avoiding legal obligations.
These offences include concealing property, giving a false affidavit, failing to attend court, failing to disclose property, making false representations or fraud on creditors, concealing property after bankruptcy, obtaining credit without declaring bankruptcy, gambling or hazardous speculations and leaving Australia with intent to defeat creditors.
Bitcoin and Digital Currency-Related Offences
The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 requires digital currency exchanges to, among other things, register with AUSTRAC, comply with rules relating to the verification of customer identities and report suspicious activity.
Rules relating to taxations compliance also apply.
It is important for exchanges to ensure compliance with these rules in order to avert potential consequences, which can include investigation and prosecution for failure to comply with AML rules as well as tax obligations.
The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) is a piece of legislation that applies across Australia, and contains a number of provisions against cartel activity, which is where two or more competitors agree to fix prices, divide a market between themselves so they do not need to share, limit the amount or type and amount of goods available to the market and/or agree amongst themselves about who should win a tender.
There can be a fine line between normal commercial activity and what is considered under the law as cartel activity, and it is important for companies to consult lawyers with a comprehensive understanding of the rules to ensure their time, efforts and resources as well as the reputations and financial viability of their businesses are not placed in jeopardy by an investigation and prosecution.
Companies under investigation can equally benefit from lawyers who are able to effectively liaise with regulators in order to ensure best practices are implemented and further adverse consequences are avoided.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (the ICAC) in New South Wales and National Anti-Corruption Commission (the NACC) which applies federally are tasked with investigating corrupt conduct in the public sector.
These bodies are embodied with coercive powers, which means they are empowered to call witnesses before them and compel them to both produce materials and testify, without the protections of the right to silence or privilege against self-incrimination.
It is particularly important for those who are summonsed before these bodies to obtain legal advice and representation from defence lawyers who have a comprehensive understanding of the applicable laws and procedures, and are vastly experienced in liaising with investigators and ensuring their clients’ interests are protected within these specialist tribunals.
The Environmental Protection Authority is empowered under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) and is the primary regulator of conduct that has the potential of affecting the environment in New South Wales.
The Authority is responsible for compliance with rules contained in a range of Acts, including the investigation and enforcement of those rules.
It has the power to issue Environmental Protection Notices such as clean-up and prevention notices to individuals or businesses, as well as make recommendations for the Minister for Energy and Environment to issue prohibition notice directing the cessation of activity.
The Authority can prosecuted offences based on their degree of seriousness, from tier 3 offences which are dealt with by way of penalty notices (fines), to tier 2 offences which can carry fines of up to $1 million for companies and $250,000 for individuals, to tier 1 offences for the most serious contraventions which can carry terms of imprisonment of up to 7 years for individuals and fines of up to $5 million for companies.
It is important for companies and individuals who are issued with notices to treat these seriously, and to engage effective lawyers who are experienced in liaising with the Authority to protect the interest of their clients.
Forgery and False Documents or Information
There are a range of offences against forgery and creating false documents in both the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) – which applies across Australia – and the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which applies to conduct that occurs in New South Wales.
Forgery itself is a crime under section 144.1 of the Criminal Code Act and section 253 of the Crimes Act.
The offence involves making a false document intending for another to accept it as genuine and, as a result, obtaining a financial advantage, causing a disadvantage or influencing the exercise of a public duty.
There are also several offences contained in both Acts relating to making or giving information about false or misleading documents.
These offences require the prosecution to prove several factors beyond a reasonable doubt, and to also disprove to the same standard any legal defence that may be raised on the evidence.
Fraud is an extremely broad category of offence that generally involves a person or company dishonestly and by way of deceptive conduct obtaining a benefit for themselves or another, or causing a disadvantage to another.
In the context of white collar crime, such conduct can encompass dishonest dealings with the ATO, Centrelink and other government department and agencies, in obtaining loans including mortgages, in the sale of shares (securities fraud), embezzlement, forgery, destroying, concealing, altering or fabricating commercial documents, to name a few.
Offences involving alleged dishonesty are contained in several pieces of both New South Wales and Commonwealth legislation, including the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), Taxation Administration Act 1996 (NSW), Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
Freezing and Asset Forfeiture Orders
The regime for the freezing and forfeiture of assets alleged to be derived from criminal activity if regulated at a federal level (across Australia) by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) and in New South Wales by the Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime Act 1989 (NSW) and Criminal Assets Recovery Act 1990 (NSW).
These pieces of legislation contain mechanisms to facilitate freezing orders and restraining orders, whereby access to assets is denied and asset-holders are prevented from dealing with them, forfeiture orders whereby the assets are forfeited to the State (the Commonwealth or State government) as well as various other orders.
The Acts also contain provisions to ensure those whose ability to access their assets is interfered with can nevertheless have access to the costs of living as well as legal costs.
In these cases, it is crucial to engage lawyers with a comprehensive understanding of the laws, practices and procedures that apply, as well as a long and proven track record of defeating applications brought by the Crown.
In 2002, our principal was instrumental in establishing the principle that property cannot be declared as ‘tainted’ merely because it has some connection to a serious offence.
The case involved an application to the Supreme Court of New South Wales for forfeiture of vehicles and a residential premises on the basis they were used to engage in the manufacture and distribution of a commercial quantity of prohibited drugs.
The Crown was represented by a team of lawyers, including a Queen’s Counsel supported by two experienced barristers, who were instructed by solicitors from a large commercial law firm.
It was a case the government intended to win at all costs.
Mr Nedim appeared independently in opposing the Crown application and successfully argued against the property being forfeited, meaning our client was able to retain ownership of the entirety of the property.
Since that time, the team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers has successfully represented countless clients in cases involving the attempted forfeiture of property, providing the most informed and highest quality legal representation in these cases.
Our law firm has set the precedents upon which other firms rely, including firms that ‘solicit’ these types of cases before referring them to barristers that specialise in the field, at the great expense and detriment of their clients.
Government Benefits Fraud
Government benefits fraud in the context of white collar crime generally relates to situations whereby an enterprise is established with a view to taking unfair advantage of a public scheme.
This conduct can relate to dishonestly and deceptively obtaining a financial benefit from a welfare, emergency, disability or any other government program intended to provide social welfare and support to the community.
Federal schemes are prosecuted through offences contained in the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), which require proof beyond a reasonable doubt of several elements (ingredients) and for which a number of legal defences may apply.
State schemes can be prosecuted through offences contained in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which again require the prosecution to prove a number of ingredients and disprove any legal defences that may be raised on the evidence.
Investigations and prosecutions for these offences require advice and representation from experienced, specialist criminal defence lawyers rather than general or commercial firms who simply ‘solicit’ the work and pass it on, providing little value to those who engage them.
Identity crimes are a type of fraud whereby a person’s personal information is accessed and used without consent to obtain a benefit to the user.
This conduct can involve assuming the identity of another or generating a false identity for fraudulent purposes.
The assumption or generation can be used for conduct including phishing, hacking, accessing information remotely, installing malware or ransomware, sextortion and document theft.
Identity charges require the prosecution to prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt, which can often be difficult to impossible in circumstances where the only information available to prosecutors is online and the source of the activity cannot be exclusively attributed to a single individual, to the exclusion of all others.
Insider trading is essentially where information relating to a company that is not generally available to the public is used to obtain a financial advantage or to cause a disadvantage.
The maximum penalty for the offence is 15 years in prison.
‘Inside information’ is defined by section 1042A of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) – which applies across Australia – as that which is not generally available, or if it is generally available, that a reasonable person would expect that it would have a material effect on the price or value of financial products.
Section 1043A of the Act makes clear that a person who possesses inside information must not use it for their own advantage or that of another. The section includes prohibitions against trading or procuring financial products based on such information, as well as communicating it to another who is reasonably likely to use it to trade such products.
There can be a fine line between conduct which is entirely lawful and that which amounts to insider trading, and it is important to be aware there are also a number of exceptions to the rule.
It is therefore vital for those who are unsure about which side their actions fall on, or who are being investigated by the ASIC, to seek the advice and representation of lawyers who have a comprehensive understanding of the rules, processes and procedures and are experienced in liaising with the ASIC to produce positive outcomes, as well as in providing formidable legal representation to those against whom charges are brought.
Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime
Proceeds of crime are those derived from unlawful activity.
Money laundering is the process whereby proceeds of crime are dealt with in a way that seeks to make it appear they are legitimately obtained.
Money laundering generally occurs in 3 stages: placement (into the financial system), layering (to obscure the source) and integration (back into the system).
There are countless ways to undertake this process, from buying and selling assets such as real estate and luxury items, to funding legitimate business ventures, to buying casino chips or loading money into poker machines before cashing it out, to putting it through currency and/or digital exchanges, to using accounts in jurisdictions with strong secrecy provisions, to dividing and depositing or transferring it into various accounts.
Offences against money laundering and dealing in proceeds of crime, as well as property suspected of being proceeds of crime, are primarily contained in:
- Chapter 10, Part 10.2, Division 400 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), which applies nationwide and contains offences with maximum penalties ranging from six months to life in prison, and
- Part 4AC (sections 193A to 193G) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which applies to activity in New South Wales, which contains offences attracting maximum penalties of between three and 20 years in prison.
The Crimes Act also contains the offence of having goods in custody reasonably suspected of being stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained, which is in section 527C and carries a maximum penalty of between six months and two years in prison.
Various regulators including the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) work with financial institutions and industry in an attempt to detect, deter and inform investigations and prosecutions of suspected money laundering and proceeds of crime offences.
Tax Fraud and Tax Evasion
The terms tax fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance are often used interchangeably, but there are significant differences.
Tax fraud generally involves intentionally or recklessly making dishonest statements to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that are false or misleading in important respects.
Tax evasion generally describes the under-reporting of income or over-reporting of expenditure with a view to paying less tax than that for which an individual or company is liable under the law.
Tax avoidance or minimisation is the use of legal means to reduce or avoid having to pay tax.
Tax offences that apply in New South Wales are primarily contained in three pieces of legislation:
- The Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth),
- Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth), and
- Taxation Administration Act 1996 (NSW).
The penalties for failures to comply with tax laws range from administrative penalties (fines that do not come with criminal records) all the way up to 10 years in prison for serious tax offences.
However, it is important to be aware prosecution always bears the onus of proving each element (ingredient) of any tax charge beyond a reasonable doubt, and there are a number of exceptions and legal defences that can apply to these charges.
It is vital for those who are under a review or have been charged with a tax offence to engage lawyers with a comprehensive understanding of not only the laws that apply, but also the ATO’s processes, procedures and policies and who are experienced in liaising with tax officers with a view to producing positive outcomes.
Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.
Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases.
Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial.
Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.
We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.
Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
Highest Level of Client Satisfaction
We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia.
Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities.
We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.
We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm
We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running.
The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004.
We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.
Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
Free First Appointment
For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers.
We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
Specialist Lawyer Guarantee
We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court.
This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
All NSW Courts
From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases.
And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists.
All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005.
An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field.
Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.
Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
Results-Focused Law Firm
Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet.
The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’.
Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.
No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.
The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
Team of Lawyers Behind You
Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide.
Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.
A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.
In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
Familiar with Magistrates and Judges
Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state.
Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
- the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
- Parramatta, opposite the Justice Precinct carpark,
- Liverpool, and
We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD offices, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.
For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.
If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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