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SFO secures nine month sentence for solicitor who tipped off client about criminal investigation

30 November, 2023 | News Releases

Today at the Old Bailey, the solicitor William Osmond was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months, for tipping off his client about an SFO money laundering investigation and issuing investigators with a forged document. Osmond was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £5000 toward the SFO’s costs.

Osmond, director and money laundering reporting officer for his law firm Osmond & Osmond Solicitors Ltd, was convicted on 14th November of informing his client James Redding Ramsay about the SFO’s investigation into Ramsay’s loan of £4 million towards the purchase of a house in Mayfair and forging a “Letter of Engagement” about his role as solicitor around the purchase.  

Osmond’s actions were revealed after SFO investigators searched his office in April 2019, revealing hand-written notes on his discussions with Ramsay and computer files that showed his forgery of the legal letter.

The SFO regularly issues notices requesting information for its criminal investigations, and it is an offence not to comply without a reasonable excuse. This is the first time the SFO has ever prosecuted a solicitor for “tipping off” another person about an investigation after receiving one of these notices.

Matthew Wagstaff, joint head of fraud, bribery and corruption at the SFO, said:

“This solicitor abused his trusted, professional status to knowingly break the law. No one is above the law, and we will pursue anyone who attempts to obstruct our investigations.”