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ABOUT US

Ballamy LLP is a firm of forensic accountants. We provide expert evidence and litigation support and perform financial and regulatory investigations. Our combination of exceptional talent and extensive experience enables us to develop and deliver the most appropriate and robust solutions for our clients. Our wealth of experience means that we excel in bringing clarity to complicated financial situations, ensuring our clients receive reports and analyses of the highest quality that address all relevant issues on a timely and cost-effective basis.

Based in London, our principal clients include leading law firms, barristers, regulatory bodies and international corporate entities. The Ballamy LLP team possesses extensive expertise across a wide spectrum of industry sectors and has significant experience of working in a variety of international jurisdictions – click the map for further details:


WHAT WE DO

Expert Evidence and Litigation Support

Our team has substantial experience of preparing expert reports and of giving expert evidence in the UK’s civil and criminal courts, in the civil courts of other jurisdictions and in domestic and international arbitration. Matters on which our professionals have given expert opinions include:

  • the quantification of losses in a variety of industries;
  • financial reporting under IFRS and UK GAAP;
  • revenue recognition;
  • the meaning of realised profits under UK GAAP; and
  • the valuation of shareholdings and businesses for a wide range of purposes.

Performing critical assessments of the methodology and calculations of other experts in this field, we base our work on a fully-corroborated analysis of the relevant facts, and we fully justify our choices of assumptions. We frequently assist our clients by preparing sensitivity analyses which show the extent of variations in the quantum of losses occasioned by incremental changes in key assumptions.

Four recent cases:

Mark was instructed by lawyers representing a defendant to criminal proceedings brought by the SFO to opine on the causes of the inability of a company to continue in operational existence as a going concern.  This assignment involved assessing whether there was evidence of a causative link between the indictment offences and the company’s subsequent failure.
Mark and Sid provided assistance to a client in an international arbitration under the LCIA Rules with respect to a dispute arising from a Sale and Purchase Agreement.  Acting for the Respondent, they have examined the accuracy of the claim for over €7m and assisted by drafting submissions to the Arbitral Tribunal on behalf of the Respondent.
Mark was engaged to give expert evidence by the lawyers defending an individual in criminal proceedings brought by HMRC.  The individual was charged with cheating the public purse of a substantial sum by submitting allegedly false VAT Returns.  On the day following Mark’s oral evidence, HMRC sought leave to prefer a lesser charge which enabled the Court to impose a non-custodial sentence.
Mark and José have been acting for a client facing charges for abuse of office whilst the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of a large overseas corporation.  A claim for loss of profits in excess of US$300m had been made with the principal allegation being that preferential treatment was offered to key customers with the inference being that the individual had instigated and benefitted from this arrangement.

Financial Investigations

We have considerable experience of performing investigations in the regulatory, civil and criminal arenas. We investigate suspicions of:

  • non-compliant conduct by regulated persons and businesses;
  • bribery and corruption;
  • false accounting and fraudulent trading;
  • market abuse and insider dealing;
  • money laundering; and
  • misappropriation of assets.

Ballamy LLP has been appointed by the FCA to its Forensic Accounting Framework as one of a small number of suppliers to assist the FCA’s Enforcement division in conducting forensic investigations into suspected misconduct and compliance failures (against both firms and individuals) in the enforcement of FSMA, FCA rules and other regulatory requirements.

We are also experienced in working constructively with our Instructing Solicitors in tracing the movements of funds through the international banking system to identify assets for recovery. Importantly, our familiarity with Blockchain technology enables us to perform detailed analyses of transactions involving cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, with the aim of assisting our clients and instructing solicitors to to expose the identities of the relevant individuals & entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions.

We have up-to-date working knowledge of the latest and most effective Open Source Intelligence (“OSINT”) tools.  We typically use OSINT:

  • in the identification of beneficially owned assets;
  • to identify associations between individuals and other legal entities; and
  • to assist in locating individuals, entities and assets from, for example, domain names, IP addresses, a person’s use of social media and the identification of other internet footprints.

Four recent cases:

Mark and Sid have been engaged as “Competent Persons” by the Jersey Financial Services Commission under Article 33(1) of the Financial Services (Jersey) Law to investigate the conduct of a Jersey trust company and its officers who had responsibilities for the stewardship of the trusts and companies under investigation.  Their report to the Jersey Financial Services Commission was subject to Maxwellisation and contributed to the resolution of regulatory issues and of disputes between the trustee and various groups of stakeholders.
Sid and Oliver have been engaged to assist the Financial Reporting Council in ascertaining whether there is evidence which is persuasive of a member of the ICAEW having failed in his duty to comply with the fundamental principles set out in the ICAEW’s Code of Ethics, including considerations as to whether the member had complied with his duty to act in the public interest.
José has recently provided assistance to the Financial Conduct Authority in an investigation after an individual had allegedly been making false representations to investors and promoting an unauthorised collective investment scheme.  The individual pleaded guilty to the operation of a collective investment scheme without authorisation and was convicted of fraud by a jury and was sentenced to a total of 7 years’ imprisonment.
Ballamy LLP was instructed by the legal advisers of an individual who was prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office for facilitating the making of allegedly corrupt payments by his former employer to win a large infrastructure contract.  Our work concentrated on demonstrating that no component of the former employee’s remuneration over a 10-year period was connected directly or indirectly with his employer’s success in winning the contract in question.

TOPICAL ISSUES

Binary options trading scams

Date posted: Monday 23 October 2017

The City of London Police announced yesterday that in the first half of this year nearly 700 individuals became victims of binary options trading scams with losses totalling some £18 million.

Binary options are a form of fixed-odds betting.  An investor bets on nothing more than whether an event will happen or not happen (for example, whether a share price will be higher or lower in three months’ time than it is today).  It appears so simple because it appears that there are only two possible outcomes – yes and no.  If investors bet correctly, they should win; if they bet incorrectly, they will lose their stake money.

But binary option trading is fraught with risks.  For example:

  • the firms operating these scams are invariably based outside the UK even though their websites give the impression that they have a UK presence;
  • investors who bet correctly usually experience the closure of their online accounts rather than the collection of their winnings, and
  • binary options are not regulated by the FCA so investors are not protected by the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

If you have been the victim of a binary options trading scam, please:

  • be alert to the likelihood that you will be targeted again;
  • report the scam to the FCA’s hotline (0800 111 6768), and
  • give us a call (Sid Harding 020 3705 9948).

We are working with computer forensic specialists, lawyers and litigation funders to devise cost-effective remedies for victims of binary options trading scams.

*****

RBS GRG

Date posted: Wednesday 1 November 2017

The BBC recently announced that it understands that Police Scotland is carrying out preliminary inquiries into the conduct of the Global Restructuring Group (GRG) of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).  Customers whose affairs were handled by the bank’s so-called turnaround division will be hopeful that these preliminary inquiries will lead to a formal investigation resulting in the Crown Office bringing criminal proceedings.  These events should not only expose any criminal conduct but should also facilitate fair redress for victims.

Further, on 23 October 2017 the FCA published a summary of the skilled person’s report on an independent review of RBS’s treatment of SME customers that had been referred to GRG.

The report exposes “widespread” inappropriate treatment of SME customers by RBS including the:

  • provision to customers of misleading and poor communication around transfer;
  • failure to support SME businesses in a manner consistent with good turnaround practice;
  • failure to document or explain the rationale behind decisions such as pricing increases; and
  • carrying out of inappropriate and unsupported valuations leading to, for example, the unfair testing of customer’s compliance with financial covenants.

The report also highlights that some elements of this inappropriate treatment should be considered systematic as it resulted from a failure to fully recognise and manage the conflicts of interests inherent in GRG’s twin objectives – turnaround of businesses in distress and financial contribution to RBS – with an apparent focus on the latter at the expense of the former.

In terms of customer outcomes, the findings for a representative sample were alarming – whilst for 34% of cases the business was clearly not viable, 92% of the remaining potentially viable businesses had experienced some inappropriate actions in the handling of their case by RBS. Further, inappropriate actions were likely to have resulted in material financial distress in 28% of these cases, beyond that which the business would have experienced in any event.

FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey recently announced that the FCA “are investigating the matters arising from the [report] and are focusing on whether there is any basis for further action” within the FCA’s powers over the way RBS mistreated some of its SME customers.  He has also advised that this investigation would be completed more quickly than the first and could lead to enforcement action being taken.  The FCA has confirmed that the investigation will look at RBS’s methodology of how individuals within RBS decided which companies entered RBS-GRG, an area of clear and evident conflict of interest in the fact that fees increased after companies were put into GRG.

Latest reports are that the bank has set aside £400m for compensation and paid out £115m to victims to date.

Customers who suffered at the hands of GRG should exercise caution when deciding to accept offers of refunds offered by the bank in respect of so-called complex fees.

In November 2016 RBS announced that it had established a complaints process and an automatic refund of complex fees (i.e. direct losses only) paid by SME customers to GRG during the period from 2008 to 2013.  RBS’s redress scheme, which excludes reimbursement of consequential losses, was established following the publication in November 2013 of a report by Lawrence Tomlinson which contained damning criticism of RBS’s behaviour.

Given this and the more recent damning criticism, customers and former customers of RBS whose affairs were handled by GRG must ensure that all their losses – both direct and consequential – are fully accommodated by the amount of offers made by RBS.  This will invariably not be the case because RBS’s offers are likely to be restricted to the repayment of so-called “complex fees” together with simple interest at 8% per annum.

We will charge no fee for performing a preliminary assessment of losses suffered by victims.


OUR SENIOR TEAM

Mark Ballamy BA FCA MAE ACIArb CFE

Mark is the Senior Partner of Ballamy LLP and has more than 25 years’ experience of providing forensic accounting services to a range of international clients. He is highly experienced in the preparation of expert reports and giving expert evidence in Court and has significant recent experience in international arbitration.

Mark is recommended in the 2016 edition of “Who’s Who Legal: Consulting Experts” which praises his “vast experience” and his “high-quality analysis”.

Mark is a member of The Academy of Experts and is a Fellow of the ICAEW. He is an ICAEW accredited forensic accountant and an Accredited Accountant Expert Witness. He is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He is a mediator accredited by The Academy of Experts.

José Fernandes LLB FCA MAE ACIArb

José has significant forensic accounting experience in assignments ranging from determining the quantum of damages in cases of commercial litigation to performing internal investigations and assessing the impact of wrongdoing on financial statements. He has assisted clients with asset tracing and the mis-selling of IRHPs. He has experience in providing assistance to regulatory bodies with investigations of conduct issues, insider dealing and pyramid selling schemes. Highly proficient in the preparation of complex financial models and performing pertinent analyses, José has prepared a number of expert reports and joint statements for use in mediation and court proceedings.

José is a Fellow of the ICAEW, an ICAEW accredited forensic accountant and an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in addition to being a member of The Academy of Experts.

Sid Harding MSc FCA

Sid has over 16 years’ experience of working in the forensic accountancy profession and is a Fellow of the ICAEW. Sid is highly experienced in conducting regulatory and financial investigations, providing litigation support in commercial disputes and undertaking business valuations.

Sid’s recent clients include the Jersey Financial Services Commission, the Financial Reporting Council and a number of top 20 law firms.

Sid is an ICAEW accredited forensic accountant and an Associate member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Oliver Bautista BSc ACCA

Oliver joined the firm in January 2016 having previously gained significant experience working in the business recovery and insolvency sector.

Oliver has assisted Insolvency Practitioners with investigations to locate and recover assets for the benefit of creditors of insolvent estates and for the purposes of submitting conduct reports to the Insolvency Service.

Outside of traditional insolvency work, he has also been involved with the investigation of the affairs of a charity following a Statutory Inquiry instituted by the Charity Commission.

Oliver is a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and also holds a Certificate of Proficiency in Insolvency.

Trusted Network

We have developed a network of trusted contractors and experienced specialists who are able to supplement our resources with a comprehensive range of services including forensic computing, direct and indirect taxation and actuarial services.

Careers

We are always interested in meeting high-quality Chartered Accountants looking for both permanent and temporary positions. Previous experience of forensic accounting, and in particular of the investigation of suspicions of fraud and other financial irregularities, is desirable, but we are willing to consider applications from newly-qualified ACAs with no such previous experience who are keen to pursue a career in forensic accounting.

If you would like to be considered for a career with Ballamy LLP, please e-mail your CV to recruitment@ballamy.co.uk together with an explanation, in not more than 500 words, of why you want to be employed by us and the qualities that you would bring to our team.


WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

“Their team possesses an excellent work ethic and their application of technical skills, logical reasoning and business acumen is outstanding, meaning they can prepare well-reasoned and accurate reports.”

“Mark is quite simply the best forensic accountancy expert I have ever called as a witness.”

“I have worked with Mark and his team a lot in heavy commercial litigation and arbitration, and rate them very highly.”

“José provides reports which are factually accurate and well written, in plain English, making complex financial matters seem simple and easy to understand.  Without doubt I would highly recommend Mr Fernandes to others looking for an expert in this field.”

“With Ballamy LLP you get the personable user‐friendly service of a boutique firm with an end-product and level of professionalism that is befitting of a magic circle firm.”

“Their attention to detail, extensive investigations experience and the clarity of their reports have led me to recommend the firm to other clients.”

“Mark and his team care deeply about the cases with which they get involved and adopt a highly professional approach to everything they do.”

“This is incredible! Thanks so much José for your time, patience and professionalism.”


CONTACT US

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85 Gresham Street
London
EC2V 7NQ

info@ballamy.co.uk

020 3705 9945