Law Fish News for 10-11-2018

Jose Antonio Vargas, “Dear America” (w/ Jonathan Capehart)

HBOS: A highly unusual fraud case

The Halifax Bank of Scotland fraud trial is highly unusual in that senior bankers are convicted of crimes, including fraud and hiding the proceeds of crime, in the boom of irresponsible lending ahead of the 2008 crash. The victims were the taxpayer, small business customers of the bank, and HBOS shareholders. The implications are serious because the board of HBOS, its successor Lloyds Banking Group, the FSA, the Serious Fraud Office, and the Treasury were alerted to allegations about HBOS Reading in 2007 but repeatedly failed to investigate. Between 2002 and 2007, small business owners were transferred to HBOS’ corporate division, headquartered at its Reading regional HQ at Beauclerc House, 3 Queen’s Road, Reading and classified as ‘high risk’ – even where they had never missed a repayment. The Head of the Bank’s Impaired Assets Division, based in Reading, Lynden Scourfield would require business owners, as a condition of the bank’s continued support, to appoint his favoured turnaround consultants Quayside Corporate Services, run by David Mills and Michael Bancroft. 

QCS would then submit inflated business cases for additional finance – sometimes against the wishes of the owners – and HBOS, under Scourfield’s influence, would extend further funds. Internal investigation reports from the bank in 2007, and seen by the BBC, reveal that the bank had identified breaches of internal checks and balances by Scourfield. In exchange, QCS arranged for Scourfield to receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash, free trips to Barbados and Cannes, Rolex watches, drugs and prostitutes. HBOS’ money also financed a private jet company, which was lent more than £100m but never made a profit and failed to file accounts. The companies included a porn publisher, a fishing tackle business, and an environmental nappies business. 

Concerns were raised by bank customers back in 2007 and in 2009 BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme about some of the allegations. A key question is whether the fraudulent activity was known about higher up the bank. 

Keywords: [“Bank”,”business”,”HBOS”]

In strange twist, Lively declares victory in Uganda LGBT lawsuit after his appeal is dismissed

Springfield pastor and long-shot Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively is declaring victory in his more than six-year fight in federal court against civil charges he conspired to deprive gay people in Uganda of their fundamental human rights. Lively is crowing after an appeals court dismissed his request for them to tinker with a lower court ruling in his favor. It is worth unpacking this most unusual legal tale, which has spanned two Lively campaigns for governor – one as an independent in 2014, and one as a Republican this year. In 2012, a Ugandan gay rights organization filed a lawsuit in Springfield federal court alleging that Lively committed a crime against humanity by participating in a conspiracy to deprive gay people in the East African nation of their fundamental human rights. After five years of litigation and a voluminous discovery process, US District Judge Michael A. 

Ponsor dismissed the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds, ruling in Lively’s favor. In a unique twist, Lively appealed the Ponsor ruling in his favor. On Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit dismissed Lively’s appeal in part on jurisdictional grounds. In the dismissal of his appeal, the court gave Lively something he wanted. Horatio G. 

Mihet, Lively’s lead attorney from the nonprofit Liberty Counsel, which is representing the pastor free of charge, said that part of the ruling is key. Pamela C. Spees, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs and a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing SMUG for free, scoffed at the idea Lively notched a victory in the appeals court ruling. Despite Lively’s request to the contrary, neither Ponsor’s 2017 decision nor Friday’s circuit court ruling preclude SMUG from filing a conspiracy claim against Lively in a Massachusetts court under state law. Lively is challenging Governor Charlie Baker for the GOP nomination for governor. 

Keywords: [“Lively”,”court”,”ruling”]

Unusual smuggling case back in St. John’s court

It’s a common hearing to see on the provincial court docket – an application to allow police to hold on a little longer to items seized as part of a criminal investigation. In St. John’s on Wednesday, one such application related to a cellphone and charger seized from a man who had brought it to court inside his body. Josh Ward-Frecker had been convicted of break and entry with intent to commit a crime, theft under $5,000, traffic charges and multiple breaches of court orders. Having been released on bail until that point, he was taken into custody and, over the next two days, officers discovered he had been carrying a number of items inside a body cavity. 

Among them: what’s alleged to be small packages of pills, cocaine and marijuana, an older-model cellphone and the phone charger. Ward-Frecker, 26, is now facing six counts of possessing a controlled drug or substance for the purpose of trafficking. With a legal limit on the amount of time police can keep a person’s personal property after it’s been seized, they can apply under the Canadian criminal code to keep the items for longer if there’s an ongoing investigation or court case, or if the objects need further examination. The Crown has filed that application for Ward-Frecker’s cellphone and charger. Ward-Frecker appeared by video from Springhill federal prison in Nova Scotia when his case was called Wednesday, and told the court he didn’t yet have a lawyer, though he intended to get one. 

Judge Mike Madden postponed the case for a month, to allow the accused some more time to make arrangements. It’s possible that Ward-Frecker will be out of prison by then. He had been deemed released from custody on the drug charges though he was still serving his prior sentence, but told the court he has a parole hearing scheduled for today. 

Keywords: [“court”,”Ward-Frecker”,”application”]

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