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John Bechelet

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Areas of Expertise

John specialises in commercial and civil fraud litigation. Admitted as a solicitor in 1983, John worked in private practice and in-house for a leading life assurance company before establishing Bivonas with Antony Brown in 1997.

John has extensive experience in a wide range of courts and tribunals including the UK Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Divisional Court. He has been involved in a number of important reported cases.

Recent Work

High Court Chancery Division and Commercial Court

  • Acted for an executive of an international Russian IT company and a director of its English parent. We advised him, in conjunction with his Russian lawyers, as to whether his acquisition of shares in an African company during the course of his employment amounted to criminal conduct in England and/or was actionable in the English courts as a breach of fiduciary duty by the English company.
  • Acted for a company and three individuals sued in the High Court for civil penalties following alleged market abuse by manipulative trading, known as “layering”, in relation to Contracts for Difference. The case involves high frequency computer-based algorithm trading strategies.
  • Acted for defendant director and contributory subject to High Court of Justice Chancery Division Freezing Order obtained by liquidators of a company in respect of an alleged “boiler room” fraud.
  • Acted for a company director alleged to have been in breach of fiduciary duty by diverting intellectual property to a new company to defeat the interests of a shareholder. The claimant, an alleged investor, claimed to have the grounds for a derivative action because of the misconduct of our client.
  • Acted for property companies in relation to their claims against banks arising out of the mis-selling of interest rate swaps.

Investigations Search and Seizure

  • Instructed to conduct an internal investigation and to advise the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Finance Officer and Head of Legal at a major multi-national conglomerate following suspected bribery in relation to overseas contracts.
  • Acted on behalf of an accountant in the Divisional Court to quash and declare illegal a search warrant issued by the Norwich Magistrates’ Court in relation to an investigation into a high yield investment fraud.

Confiscations and Proceeds of Crime

  • Acted in the UK Supreme Court for two appellants facing one of the highest ever confiscation orders handed down under the proceeds of crime legislation, originally, £92 million each. The appeal was successful and the confiscation orders amended to provide for recovery of £16 million and subject to further reduction for recoveries in respect of the same joint benefit. The case concerned the assessment of the “benefit” of co-conspirators in the context of an MTIC fraud.
  • Acted for offshore companies and a Liechtenstein trust in relation to the proposed variation of a restraint order made pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act 1988. This related to the proposed release of assets following the conviction of defendants for a £100 million fraud.

 

Notable Cases

R v Ahmad and Another [2014] UKSC 36

Acting in the UK Supreme Court for two successful appellants facing one of the highest ever confiscation orders handed down under the proceeds of crime legislation.

P & Anor v Norwich Magistrates' Court & Anor [2009] EWHC 1512 (admin)

Acted on behalf of an accountant in the Divisional Court to quash and declare illegal a search warrant issued by the Norwich Magistrates.

Shierson & Anor v Rastogi (A Bankrupt) [2007] EWHC 1266 (Ch)

A leading case on suspension of discharge from bankruptcy under s.279 of Insolvency Act 1986.

RCPO v Hill [2005] EWCA Crim 3271

An appeal by the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office against the decision to discharge restraint orders made against the Defendants under sections 40 and 41 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), which ultimately led to a stay of the prosecution as an abuse of process.

Professional Associations

John is a member of the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers’ Association, Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association.

Publications

John has contributed articles to the Solicitors Journal and other publications.