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British lawyer found guilty of ‘tipping off’ client about fraud probe

A British lawyer was found guilty on Tuesday of “tipping off” his client about a money laundering investigation by Britain’s fraud watchdog, which was part of a wider probe into allegations of corruption against Kazakh miner ENRC.

Prosecutors said William Osmond, 69, told his client James Ramsay in 2018 that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had asked Osmond for information about the 2013 purchase of an 8 million-pound ($9.9 million) London property.

Osmond then provided a forged engagement letter to SFO investigators that falsely said he had been representing Ramsay’s company – which provided a 4 million-pound loan for the purchase – since 2013.

Osmond was convicted following a trial at London’s Old Bailey court of one charge of tipping off under the Proceeds of Crime Act and one charge of forgery. He had pleaded not guilty.

Judge Rebecca Trowler will sentence Osmond on Nov. 30.

Prosecutor James Waddington previously told jurors that the SFO was investigating the loan provided by Osmond’s client Ramsay as part of a wider probe involving ENRC.

Former FTSE 100 company ENRC was under investigation from 2013 in relation to alleged bribery to secure mining contracts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, before the probe was quietly dropped without any charges in August.

ENRC, which is currently suing the SFO in relation to the investigation, had denied wrongdoing.

Osmond, the senior partner at London-based law firm Osmond & Osmond, was asked by the SFO to provide information about Ramsay and the purchase of the London property, which was linked to the daughter of one of ENRC’s founders, Waddington said.

However, Waddington added, Osmond regularly spoke to Ramsay about the SFO’s inquiries and traveled to Malta, where Ramsay was living, a week after he was first contacted by the SFO.

Original source : Reuters

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