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‘A long, drawn-out process’: Former Burges Salmon partner cleared in £245m fraud case

Following a two-week trial at Southwark Crown Court, former Burges Salmon partner Roger Hawes has been found not guilty of a money-laundering offence.

The trial, which began on 27 November, related to Hawes’ alleged involvement in a £245m fraud at HBOS in Reading which took place between 2003 and 2008 while he was a partner at the firm. Hawes, who was a corporate finance partner, was charged with conspiracy to conceal criminal property, in breach of section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1997.

Hawes had been a partner at Burges Salmon for 20 years, before leaving in 2011. He is now an independent business consultant.

The firm issued a statement yesterday (13 December) which read: ‘Today, a former partner of this firm, Roger Hawes, has been found not guilty of a money-laundering offence. We welcome the fact that this brings to an end a long, drawn-out process. Out of consideration for all those involved, now that the process is at an end, we do not propose to make any further public statements about it.’

In February, a former senior HBOS manager, Lynden Scourfield, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison for his involvement in the £245m fraud. Scourfield’s business associate, David Mills, was sentenced to 15 years.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has been watching the case, with the regulatory body saying in November that it would await the conclusion of the trial before deciding on appropriate action.

Other partners and firms have found themselves under scrutiny in December. Earlier this month, Clifford Chance (CC) and its disputes partner Alex Panayides were both fined £50,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for their involvement in the Excalibur professional negligence saga. The sanction was the first fine ever levied on one of London’s Magic Circle law firms.