Serious Fraud Office
Serious Fraud Office launches investigation into suspected fraud at Axiom Ince with nine raids and seven arrests
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has today arrested seven individuals and carried out searches across nine sites, as it announces the launch of a criminal investigation into collapsed law firm Axiom Ince and £66m of missing client money.
Over eighty SFO investigators, accompanied by Metropolitan Police officers, arrived at locations in the South East of England early this morning to bring individuals in for questioning and search for potential evidence.
Axiom Ince stopped trading last month when approximately £66 million in client money was found to be missing from its accounts and spent. Investigators will also examine how funds passed from the firm’s client accounts with Barclays to the State Bank of India to fund these purchases.
Axiom Ince was founded in May, when law firm Axiom DWFM purchased corporate and commercial law firm Ince Group, as it was set to enter administration. Two months later Axiom Ince then also bought struggling insurance law firm Plexus LLP.
When the Solicitors Regulation Authority shut Axiom Ince in October, the firm operated 14 branches in England and Wales and employed over 1400 staff.
Due to the complexity of the alleged fraud, the Metropolitan Police referred the case to the SFO; the two organisations will continue to work closely together on the investigation.
Nick Ephgrave QPM, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, said:
“There are a number of significant questions that need to be answered: clients from this law firm are missing many millions of pounds and more than 1,400 of its staff have lost their jobs. The impact on those affected is extremely serious.
“This morning, we have used our specialist powers to obtain important information that will help us get to the bottom of what happened.”
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