Sunday, October 18, 2015

Britain's Keystone Kops lose another one

Coming after the loss in the meritless Evans case and the bungled pursuit of the Tchenguiz brothers by the SFO -- costing the nation over $10 million -- isn't it time some legally competent people were put in charge of British fraud investigations?  Both the SFO and the NCA were so puffed up with their own importance that they felt they  could do no wrong.  They now know otherwise

Taxpayers are facing a £13 million bill after the National Crime Agency launched a bungled raid on a group of innocent businessmen – an operation a judge lambasted for its ‘grave errors’.

The scandal-hit organisation, created to be Britain’s equivalent of the FBI, has apologised to five businessmen, including three brothers, whose offices and homes it wrongly raided, ransacked and bugged during the disastrous operation.

After losing two court cases and being accused of ‘disreputable’ conduct by a judge, the NCA is now being sued over the damage it caused to the subjects of the failed investigation into alleged money-laundering.

It already faces paying the businessmen more than £600,000 in legal costs over the court cases, and is also being pursued in the High Court for more than £12 million in compensation.

In a letter seen by The Mail on Sunday, NCA manager Paul Risby told the men: ‘It has been decided that no further action will be taken against you.

‘I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the errors and deficiencies set out in the recent judgments… and apologise on behalf of the NCA. Lessons have been learned.’

Satish Chatwani, an accountant and company director who was at the centre of the abandoned case, said last night: ‘The personal humiliation which I, my brothers and our families have all suffered from the very public manner in which the NCA has engaged in repeated unlawful conduct against us and our businesses has been compounded by the financial damage caused to our commercial affairs.

‘I am so angry that innocent, law-abiding British citizens should have been so poorly treated.’

The collapse of Operation Heterodon – an eavesdropping operation that had echoes of hit US drama series The Wire – came after the NCA sent 100 officers to swoop on Kanta House, the West London headquarters of 41 companies, run by Mr Chatwani and his two brothers, in January this year.

Senior officers suspected the brothers and two associates knew money-launderers but had no evidence against them – so they arrested them and planted bugs in their office in the hope that they would return later and discuss their supposed crimes.

Officers also raided the men’s homes, seizing personal property.

In May, the Divisional Court ruled that the entries, searches and seizures were unlawful.

The NCA said: ‘We have recently written to the claimants in these proceedings to confirm that no further action will be taken against them and have apologised for the errors set out in the recent judgments.’

Original report here

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