Financial Crimes – Terms to Know and How We Can Help You
Have you been charged with theft, fraud or financial crime offence? Our Vancouver criminal lawyers can help you. It is also important that you know the legal terms when talking to your lawyer. We will explain some of them in this article.
Financial crimes carry heavy penalties, with the maximum penalty for fraud being 14 years’ imprisonment. That is why you need a legal expert on your side.
We represent individuals across British Columbia. Whether you have been accused of acting alone or as part of organized crime groups, we have the experience needed to handle even the most complex of cases.
Our criminal defence lawyers represent those accused of:
- Credit card fraud
- Money laundering and terrorist financing
- Embezzlement/theft from an employer
- Tax evasion
We deliver a robust defence strategy to get you the best possible outcome.
For further information or for a free initial consultation, please contact our Vancouver law office.
Financial crimes in Canada
Financial crime is when money or property is taken without the owner’s consent, either to make a financial gain or to cause others a financial loss.
It does not matter whether that end goal is actually realized or not. Even just the intention to defraud a person or organization is enough to warrant a conviction.
Financial crimes range in complexity. Basic theft, such as shoplifting, sits at one end of the spectrum. A person steals an item from a shop without paying for it, causing a loss to the shopkeeper.
However, financial crimes are often much more complicated, potentially involving organized crime groups. In cases of tax evasion, the loss is suffered by a provincial or federal government.
Financial crimes are also known as white collar crimes. They are non-violent offences, although are sometimes associated with gang-related violence, terrorism financing and other serious crimes.
What are considered financial crimes?
White collar crimes are committed by individuals, organized crime groups or corporations for some kind of financial gain.
There are lots of different types of financial crime. They include, but are not limited to:
Bankruptcy fraud is when an insolvent individual defrauds their creditors. This might involve concealing or disposing of assets during bankruptcy proceedings.
Find out what to do if you have been accused of a financial fraud, such as bankruptcy fraud.
Bribery is when money or favours are offered to influence the actions or opinions of a person in a position of trust. It is closely linked to corruption, which is the dishonest conduct by those in power.
If you’ve been accused of bribery or corruption, you need a leading defence lawyer to represent you. Here’s how to find a good criminal defence lawyer.
Credit card fraud
Credit card fraud is the unauthorized access to another party’s credit card information. We defended a client who stole bank cards and withdrew around $13,000. Our client received a non-custodial suspended sentence.
Counterfeiting is the manufacturing or distribution of goods/currency that are not genuine, but are designed to imitate the ‘real deal’. It is similar to forgery, which is the process of illegally copying goods or documents to deceive someone.
False pretense is a criminal offence if past or present facts are misrepresented, with the intention of defrauding another party. Like all fraud offences, these cases require a specialist fraud defence lawyer.
Identity theft is when an individual’s personal information is stolen for fraudulent purposes. This can include someone’s name, driver’s licence, social insurance number and bank details.
Insider trading is when a person or company buys or sells stock based on information that is confidential and unavailable to the public. This allows them to reap the rewards on the stock market.
Insurance fraud involves submitting false or exaggerated claims to secure pay-outs from an insurance company. We acted for a client who made false insurance claims under her employee health benefit plan. We negotiated with the insurance company. No criminal charges were laid.
Mail fraud involves the use of Canada Post or another postal service to commit fraud. Mail fraud is similar to wire fraud, which are scams requesting the wire transfer of funds. This falls under the wider banner of cybercrime.
Money laundering is when the proceeds of crime are made to look as though they came from legitimate sources. Large-scale money laundering is often associated with organized crime groups.
Tax evasion is when an individual or business intentionally evades the payment of tax. This might include misrepresenting income, concealing assets or overstating expenses.
We represented a client who failed to declare $32,000 worth of jewelry to Customs when arriving in Canada. We negotiated with the CBSA. No criminal charges were laid.
Theft from an employer
Theft from an employer is a type of embezzlement. Embezzlement means stealing or misappropriating property (such as money) which has been entrusted to you.
We represented a client who submitted false receipts and financial statements to fraudulently obtain funds in the course of her employment. We arranged a restitution payment and no criminal charges were laid.
Do financial crimes involve just money?
By definition, financial crimes involve the unlawful taking of something with a monetary value. This can be money. It can also be something else of value, be it property, the proceeds of crime or personal information.
Those committing a financial crime might not actually benefit financially or bring about a loss. But so long as the intention exists, the Crown can mount a successful prosecution. For instance, a hacker may steal credit card details with the intention of siphoning funds from another person’s bank account. Even if the card is cancelled before any money is stolen, it still amounts to credit card fraud.
Who investigates financial crimes?
Various authorities across Canada investigate financial crimes. This includes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).
It was announced in the Budget 2022 that a new organization will also be created. The Canada Financial Crimes Agency will investigate highly complex crimes and enforce federal law in the areas of fraud, money-laundering, insider trading, organized crime, and other financial crimes.
Financial crimes are investigated on a local, provincial, federal and international level. Different jurisdictions frequently join forces to tackle financial crimes, particularly where organized crime groups are concerned.
There are initiatives in place to aid multi-jurisdictional co-operation. This includes the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC). This brings together international law enforcement agencies to coordinate a global response to grand corruption.
Having more than one country involved in a financial crime investigation can complicate matters, but is something we are used to dealing with. We acted in one case in which a foreign state requested documents seized under a search warrant in Canada. Thanks to our input, the application was dismissed and the search warrant set aside.
Speak to our fraud lawyers
Being accused of a financial crime is a serious matter. The mere accusation can damage your reputation and employment prospects. This can have a significant impact on your life, especially if you run a business or are in a position of trust. If convicted, you may struggle to travel or secure future employment.
That is why it is important to fight any charges brought against you. Getting a lawyer on your side at an early stage is your best chance of securing a favourable outcome.
Defending fraud and financial crimes
Thanks to our extensive experience as criminal defence lawyers, we can advise how best to handle the allegations that have been made against you. Every case is different.
The best approach may be to negotiate with the individual or organization who suffered the loss. The arrangement of a restitution payment can be enough to prevent criminal charges going any further.
If your case does proceed to trial, we may be able to argue a defence such as:
- Mistake, whereby the prosecution has wrongfully accused you
- Lack of intent, meaning you did not intend to deprive the owner
- Colour of right, meaning you thought you had the right to possess the property
There may also be other mitigating circumstances which explain your actions.
Our aim is to get you the best result possible. Having our expertise could make the difference between an acquittal and a jail sentence. We know it is frightening to face such serious allegations but we are here to help you.
Are there mitigating circumstances?
Even for those individuals who have made a mistake and committed an offence of fraud, there may be mitigating circumstances which explain your actions.
This was relevant when we defended a client who stole around $500,000 in high end liquor from his employer. We obtained a psychological report revealing that our client was suffering from a gambling addiction at the time of the offence. Thanks to the report, the court found the rehabilitation of the offender was a priority. No jail time was served.
As defence lawyers, we can negotiate and enter into a plea bargain with the Crown Counsel, or make legal submissions to the Judge. In many circumstances, we can help you avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction.
Contact us now
At Mickelson & Whysall, we handle all kinds of theft and fraud cases. Whether it is an allegation of shoplifting or a more serious charge of theft from your employer, our defence lawyers can successfully guide you through the process.
We understand that you may feel intimidated, especially if this is your first dealing with the criminal justice system. You will also want the issue dealt with as quickly and as discreetly as possible.