SFO secures conviction of solicitor for tipping off client about money laundering investigation
14 November, 2023 | News Releases
Today at the Old Bailey the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) secured the conviction of William Osmond, a solicitor, who disclosed confidential details about an investigation and forged a legal document in an attempt to mislead investigators.
Osmond, co-founder of a London-based commercial and property law firm Osmond & Osmond Solicitors Ltd, is the first ever solicitor the SFO has prosecuted with “tipping off” a client. Solicitors are legally obliged not to share details of money laundering investigations into their clients. Osmond was also the acting Money Laundering Reporting Officer for the firm, meaning he was expected to report any suspicions of money laundering to the authorities.
In 2018, SFO investigators made covert enquiries about businessman James Redding Ramsay, Osmond’s client, who had paid £4 million toward the purchase of a Mayfair property. Osmond immediately contacted his client to inform him about the investigation and went on to meet Mr Ramsay to discuss the matter across the next five months, including by flying out to Mr Ramsay’s home in Malta and meeting him at a West London private dining club.
Osmond also, in response to the investigation’s request, supplied the SFO with a fake “Letter of Engagement” that set out his role as solicitor for a British Virgin Islands company which was purchased by Mr Ramsay and used to move funds for the purchase of the London property.
SFO investigators searched Mr Osmond’s office in 2019, revealing five pages of hand-written notes on his discussions with Ramsay and computer files that showed his forgery of the legal letter.
Osmond will be sentenced on 30 November 2023 at the Old Bailey.