Banking & finance

FIB expert witness testimony helps jail fraudsters

  • 27 March 2006

Six fraudsters are now behind bars in large part due to expert witness testimony provided by ICC’s Financial Investigation Bureau (FIB). In two recent European court cases, law enforcement agencies relied upon FIB’s expertise to unravel a patchwork of complex financial crimes.

FIB Assistant Director Jon Merrett said: “FIB has many years of experience detecting financial fraud and we can often make connections between the various parties involved, that they have taken great pains to conceal.”

The first trial, held in an Oslo District Court, saw several companies and their principals deceived into paying advance fees as they sought to finance projects. The perpetrators of this Norway-based scam also created a number of fraudulent documents which they claimed were necessary to facilitate the loans.

As a result of assistance provided by FIB, and the work of the Okokrim (the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime), two individuals were found guilty of all charges and each sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Their sentences may also include financial compensation for the losses suffered by their victims.

The second case was heard by a Swiss court and involved a complex fraud network offering high yield investment programs. The scam defrauded investors through an intricate web of inter-related companies and individuals controlled by a Guatemalan company. It involved companies in Montreux, Switzerland, and Delaware, USA.

Mr Merrett explained: “Our investigation uncovered an extensive fraud operation spanning the globe from Central America to North America, Europe and the Far East. In total, there were 3,500 separate investment programs created to launder US$8 million, generated by other criminal activity, through subsequently opened bank accounts. Thankfully, local law enforcers were able to halt the scam and four individuals have now been jailed.”

Increasingly, law enforcement agencies are depending on FIB to research and decipher complicated scams like this and map out how the money flowed and the connections between the various parties alleged to be involved.

Expert witness testimony is frequently making a major contribution towards educating the legal community on complicated financial matters and securing convictions.

Mr Merrett added: “A central part of FIB’s role following any decision to prosecute is to highlight key fraud indicators. Although some items may not be conclusive when viewed individually, when considered together they can clearly demonstrate a pattern of criminal intent. Expert witness testimony is starting to play a regular part in complex financial fraud cases and we are pleased to be able to offer this service to a wider audience.”