Aziz Rahman’s law firm, Rahman Ravelli, is expanding thanks to its growing reputation and successful track record in the fields of corporate crime, civil fraud and asset recovery. Here he explains why it is more important than ever that businesses do all they can to prevent wrongdoing in the workplace.
Aziz Rahman is busy. He is in the process of sorting out the finer details of the planned expansion of Rahman Ravelli’s London base while mulling over proposals to increase the firm’s capacity at its centres in the Midlands and Yorkshire.
The expansion is a welcome headache. Since its founding in 2001, Rahman Ravelli’s progress has been steady and impressive. It has racked up consistent top rankings in the national and legal guides this decade – with Rahman himself highlighted as one of the UK’s elite solicitors – and a succession of awards.
Then there is the series of high-profile successes that has helped propel Rahman Ravelli into the top strata of legal firms that specialise in white-collar crime and commercial litigation.
Yet Rahman himself sees other forces as part of the reason for Rahman Ravelli’s continued increase in size and profile. In particular, he cites the changing legal landscape for creating a greater need among companies, senior business figures, professionals and high net worth individuals for expert legal advice. A need for firms, like his, with expertise in cases that cross borders and involve a number of jurisdictions, with experience of resolving disputes where corporate wrongdoing is alleged.
He explained: “Many aspects of the law on business crime have changed significantly in the past decade or so. There is also an increased determination among the law enforcement agencies, both here and abroad, to enforce this law.
“This has led to more companies and individuals coming under investigation. It has also meant that they now have to do more to ensure nothing is being done that will attract the authorities’ attention.
“Firms of all shapes and sizes and many individuals are seeking legal advice as they are being investigated – or believe they are about to be investigated – or because they want to know what to do to make sure they are complying with the law.
“A reactive approach to an investigation and a proactive approach to preventing the need for one both require the help of a business crime expert: someone who can assess the situation swiftly and accurately, decide the most appropriate course of action and, if necessary, use their experience in challenging or negotiating with the authorities.
“Only then can companies and individuals ensure they do not suffer the harshest penalties under business crime legislation.’’
Last year saw the first conviction of a company under the Bribery Act, for failure to prevent bribery. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has gained extra funding to investigate and prosecute similar cases, which means UK companies will find themselves under greater scrutiny; wherever in the world they trade.
There is also the authorities’ heightened focus on tax evasion in the wake of last year’s Panama Papers scandal; with the Criminal Finances Bill set to make companies criminally liable if they fail to stop their employees facilitating tax evasion.
Issues such as VAT and tax fraud are also coming under closer examination, while banks and financial institutions are facing increasing obligations to prevent money laundering.
Aziz Rahman added: “In recent times, some of the most famous names in British business have come under intense scrutiny. Tesco, BHS and Rolls-Royce, to name a few, have all been the subject of major investigations and unwanted headlines.
“But anyone in business is now more likely to be investigated than ever before – no matter how low profile they are. That means that more people are requiring advice on business crime matters.
“And they need to recognise that if they are to achieve the best possible outcome then they must seek out the best possible people to represent them: the people who have the most expertise and the strongest track record of success.’’
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