- Year of Call: 1989
- Year of Silk: 2012
Primary areas of practice
- Fraud and Financial Crime
Legal 500 – Fraud: Crime “Able to get to grips with the most complex of issues exceptionally quickly.’
Gary Bell is a natural advocate. Whilst he was a student at Bristol University he was President of the Debating Union and won many national and international debating tournaments. He was selected for the prestigious English-Speaking Union debating tour of the USA in 1986 and was runner-up in the world debating championships at Princeton University in 1989.
After leaving university he went back to the USA to work in the litigation department of a commercial practice based in Century City, Los Angeles, before returning to England to take up an offer of pupillage at a leading London criminal set. He practised in London for seven years before moving with his young family to a leafy village in the Midlands and since then he has carved out a niche as a specialist fraud practitioner. Since taking silk in 2012 he has also conducted privately paid general criminal and fatal motoring cases.
His practice is 100% defence and he is instructed in private and selected legally aided serious fraud and complex criminal cases by major firms of solicitors all over the country.
Gary also has a wealth of civil fraud experience; from representing clients in the Tax and VAT tribunal in relation to applications for civil confiscation orders and in relation to enquiries which result in no criminal proceedings but are resolved civilly. He also advises corporate and executive clients pre-charge on the benefits and implications of civilly settling a case.
He also has extensive experience of murder and manslaughter and has conducted dozens of capital cases as a junior and leading barrister.
Gary is frequently instructed on behalf of convicted defendants facing substantial confiscation proceedings. He is acknowledged as an expert on proceeds of crime/money laundering. He gives seminars to other barristers and solicitors on recent developments in those areas of the law. Has lectured Chinese government officials on the Bribery Act and has written for Archbold News. He prides himself on getting on well with even the most demanding of lay clients and works closely with his instructing solicitors on all of his cases. His emphasis is on being part of a team.
Many of his cases involve over 100,000 pages of evidence, millions of pounds of losses and are listed to last several months. They require exhaustive preparation, attention to detail, working as part of a team and courtroom advocacy.
He is acknowledged as an expert in financial crime and the Proceeds of Crime Act and regularly gives training seminars on the law relating to all aspects of fraud to other barristers, solicitors and judges. He recently lectured Chinese government officials on the implications of the Bribery Act.
He is consulted on aspects of criminal law facing their clients by commercial silks and magic circle commercial firms. Clients of magic circle firms facing criminal fraud charges are often referred to Gary Bell by them.
He also appears in contested matters before the tax tribunal.
He is often consulted by major financial institutions on the implications of the Bribery Act and Deferred Prosecution Agreements.
He is currently advising a Nigerian Company involved in the Oil and Gas Industry and their proposed partner, a Korean Manufacturer, on international contract law and compliance with bribery and corruption legislation which will satisfy the 82 major international companies they are seeking to do business with in Nigeria.
He accepts direct access instructions.
He will always give honest and robust advice to the lay client about the strength of the case against them, and if a client wants to explore a potential guilty plea he will negotiate with the prosecution to secure the most favourable basis of plea possible. He is happiest, however, in the trial arena. If the client wants a trial Gary Bell will give the client a trial.
Fraud and Financial Crime
R v B (2017) B was a solicitor charged with two police officers with conspiring to defraud a vulnerable adult out of her inheritance. The two co-defendants were both found guilty after a lengthy trial. B was found not guilty.
R v B (2017) B was the second defendant in a multi handed billion-pound conspiracy. He was tried alongside five co-defendants and after a four-month trial everyone (except an independent accountant) was convicted.
R v S (2016) S was charged with conspiring with another to fraudulently obtain government contracts. His co-defendant pleaded guilty but S had a trial. S was found not guilty by a jury and the co-defendant who had admitted conspiring with S was sentenced alone.
R v K (2016) K was charged with defrauding HMRC of a million pounds. After a lengthy trial, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
R v R (2015) R was a company charged by trading standards with a litany of offences alleging they had traded corruptly and unfairly. After a fully contested trial they were acquitted of six serious charges, including two counts of fraud, and convicted of a technical offence relating to an employee inadvertently using old contracts which were out of date, an offence which attracted a small fine.
R v M (2015) M was charged with counts of fraudulent trading and false accounting as the third defendant of 6 on a currency fraud running into tens of millions of pounds. He had admitted the false accounting in interview but, after a trial lasting three months, he was found not guilty of fraudulent trading. The other defendants charged with fraudulent trading were all found guilty by the jury.
R v K (2013) K was alleged to have been a major player in an eighty-million-pound revenue fraud. The evidence against him was overwhelming and a plea on a very limited basis was negotiated with the prosecution, resulting in K serving a prison sentence of less than 4 years with no confiscation proceedings.
R v N (2013) N was tried along with six other defendants on a conspiracy to launder ten million pounds and send it to China. She had opened up two bank accounts and a foreign exchange account through which over two million pounds was laundered. After a six-week trial, she was found not guilty by the jury. Five of the other six defendants were convicted.
R v K (2013) Acted for the first defendant of 6 who had pleaded guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence to masterminding a tax fraud running to over seven million pounds. The prosecution claimed as part of the confiscation proceedings that he had hidden the money and it should be confiscated as a hidden asset. The confiscation proceedings were extremely complicated and took over three years to litigate. The sticking point between prosecution and defence was the whereabouts of three quarters of a million pounds which had been withdrawn from banks in cash and disappeared – thus becoming a hidden asset of K. At the confiscation proceedings, it was shown that K had accounted for his income and expenditure and the court concluded that K had no hidden assets. The prosecution attempted to confiscate seven million pounds. The final order was £300,000.
R v F (2012) F, the first defendant, had pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to defraud financial institutions of a huge amount of money through his company. He had made full admissions in interview. His personal benefit was found to be a hundred and thirty million pounds. The confiscation proceedings were fully contested and included issues as to the status of his wife’s inheritance and preferential shares to the value of millions of pounds redeemed by his brothers on F’s authority after he knew that his company was trading insolvent. On both contested issues in the confiscation proceedings F was successful and the result was an order against the defendant of only a hundred and fifty thousand pounds.
R v W (2012) W was alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud with eighteen co-defendants and a total value of several million pounds. She was also charged with perverting the course of justice. There was overwhelming evidence that she was guilty of perverting the course of justice and a guilty plea to that count was negotiated on a very limited basis and on condition that the mortgage fraud conspiracy would be dropped against her and there would be no confiscation proceedings against her and no application for costs. For the perverting, the course of justice count she received a non-custodial sentence.
R v Y (2012) Acted for a defendant charged with being involved in a large-scale conspiracy to defraud investors in internet companies with five other defendants. It was submitted that there was no evidence of dishonesty against Y. These submissions were successful and not guilty verdicts were entered.
R v T (2011) Acted for a solicitor charged with a five-million-pound intellectual property fraud. T was alleged to have fraudulently set up shadow companies to transfer millions of pounds worth of assets belonging to an Australian businessman who was ignorant of the transfers. The Australian businessman was the prosecution’s main witness. Served alongside the case papers were disks served as unused material and which contained tens of thousands of pages of material. After a thorough analysis of the unused material – none of which had been read by the prosecution, I drafted a skeleton argument which, with attached exhibits, ran to over a hundred pages. In the skeleton, it was alleged that the exhibits proved the Australian businessman knew full well about the transfers and had sanctioned them. It was therefore submitted that it would be an abuse of process to rely on his evidence. The prosecution agreed with the submission shortly after they received it and offered no evidence against T. Not guilty verdicts were then returned.
R v D (2011) D was a financial broker charged with masterminding and financing a conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud to the value of several million pounds. The case included a large number of buyers and sellers of property, but none of the large number of solicitors who had sanctioned and used the scheme had been charged. A legal submission was made that it would be an abuse of process to try D without also charging and putting on trial a large number of solicitors. The prosecution were ordered by the judge to draft a response justifying their approach and setting out in detail what their case was against D. They failed to lodge a response and not guilty verdicts were entered for D.
R v T (2011) T was charged with conspiracy to launder a large amount of money which was alleged to have been the proceeds of drug trafficking. An extremely limited basis of plea was negotiated in relation to only a small amount of money which resulted in her not going to prison and facing no confiscation proceedings nor any application for costs.
R v M (2011) M was convicted after a trial, along with all of the other defendants, of being involved in a multi-million-pound mortgage fraud. At the confiscation proceedings, the benefit figure for M was over £3 million and M had precious few assets other than the mortgage free family home. It was submitted that it would be unjust to confiscate the home as it was a mortgage free asset his wife had brought to the marriage. This submission was accepted by the prosecution and M and his wife were able to keep their home.
R v P (2010) A multi-million-pound boiler room fraud involving over 100,000 pages of evidence and five defendants. Shortly before the trial the defendant absconded and was tried in his absence. P was alleged to have run a boiler room in Spain selling worthless shares to hapless investors for millions of pounds. Two other defendants in the trial were also alleged to have run boiler rooms in Spain. After a three month trial the other two defendants were convicted by the jury but P was found not guilty.
R v H (2010) H was charged as part of a large-scale conspiracy to defraud the revenue. He was acquitted after a legal submission. He also stood trial with four other defendants for a related attempted murder. The other four defendants were found guilty by the jury but H was acquitted after an 8-week trial.
R v B (2009) B was charged with being involved a large multi-handed mortgage fraud. After submissions made to the prosecution they offered no evidence and a not guilty verdict was returned.
R v W (2009) W was charged as being involved as part of a conspiracy to commit a Ponzi fraud, defrauding investors of a total of twenty-six million pounds by marketing a scheme to turn rock into gold. There was compelling evidence of his guilt and he was advised to plead guilty. An extremely limited basis of plea was negotiated with the prosecution based upon W only knowing that the investment scheme was fraudulent very late in the day. Other defendants had a trial and were convicted by the jury. W was the only defendant of eight to receive a non-custodial sentence. His confiscation proceedings were limited to thirty thousand pounds.
R v K (2009) Acted for the first defendant of two in an £11 million MTIC fraud at the Southwark Crown Court. The case was prepared for trial but the co-defendant then pleaded guilty and gave a statement in preparation for giving Queen’s evidence against K. A guilty plea by K was then negotiated on an extremely limited basis which included no costs and no confiscation proceedings, in spite of the fact he had the stolen £11 million sitting in his bank account and a mortgage free house worth £3 million.
R v A (2008) A major long firm fraud involving seven defendants accused of receiving millions of pounds from hapless suppliers. The case was listed for trial but on the day of trial six defendants pleaded guilty, leaving A to stand trial alone. A submission of no case to answer was made and acceded to by the prosecution and A was found not guilty.
R v T (2008) An accountant alleged to be part of a conspiracy with six other defendants to commit tax fraud. T’s role was the alleged preparation and submission of fraudulent accounts for a firm of solicitors. T was acquitted after legal submission that not to charge a seventh co-defendant amounted to an abuse of process.
R v G (2008) A car trader accused of being involved in an importation tax fraud conspiracy with ten other defendants by importing cars for pretended supply to disabled customers (which are VAT free) and thus defrauding the revenue of millions of pounds. Amongst the large amount of unused material served were documents which showed that other parties to the conspiracy had been granted immunity from prosecution in return for COP 9 admissions and repayment of the tax owed. It was submitted that, in the circumstances, it was an abuse of process to try G. This submission was accepted by the prosecution and no evidence was offered against G.
R v K (2007) K was charged with a conspiracy to defraud the revenue of over a million pounds through a VAT carousel fraud via Poland. Disclosure requests were made asking for material the prosecution were unwilling to disclose. An application for the material was listed before the court and, rather than disclose the material, the prosecution offered no evidence against K.
R v M (2007) M was found to have benefited from fraud to the tune of six million three hundred thousand pounds. He faced confiscation proceedings where the prosecution alleged he had hidden the entire amount. Gary Bell was brought in at that stage to deal with the confiscation proceedings. After a complicated audit which took two years to complete every penny was accounted for and no order was made against the defendant for any of the aforementioned sum of money.
R v S (2006) S had pleaded guilty to an international conspiracy to defraud suppliers of sham companies he had set up. The losses ran into millions of pounds. The evidence of his involvement was unanswerable but a very limited basis of plea was negotiated with the prosecution. In the confiscation proceedings, the prosecution claimed a benefit figure and realisable asset figure of millions of pounds. After a contested confiscation hearing his realisable assets were found to be one hundred pounds.
R v K (2016) K was charged with murder and GBH by stabbing. He offered to plead guilty to manslaughter on condition the prosecution dropped the murder and GBH counts. They refused and K had a trial. He was found not guilty of murder and GBH.
R v F (2016) F was charged with being involved in a substantial conspiracy to supply cocaine. The trial involved twelve defendants and the evidence was based substantially upon telephone conversations between him and two of his co-defendants, one of whom pleaded guilty to conspiracy. After an eight week trial the other person he was in telephone contact with was convicted by the jury. F was found not guilty.
R v M (2015) M was charged with causing death by careless driving. He was found not guilty at the conclusion of the prosecution case, after a submission of no case to answer.
R v S (2014) S was the fourth defendant of seven charged with a huge smuggling conspiracy involving cigarettes, cannabis, cocaine and heroin. The trial collapsed after five months and a second trial was held lasting a further two months. S was cleared of the heroin, cocaine and cannabis importation but convicted of smuggling cigarettes.
R v M (2014) M was charged with causing death by dangerous driving and faced a substantial prison sentence. A plea, on an acceptable basis, was negotiated with the prosecution to causing death by careless driving in the lowest category of culpability and M escaped a prison sentence.
R v K (2014) K was charged with attempted murder of a man he was found by police to be allegedly trying to bury in his back garden having allegedly cut his throat. He was acquitted after the prosecution acceded to a submission by me that there was no evidence that K was the man responsible.
R v W (2013) W was charged with being involved in an armed robbery where several hundred thousands of pounds worth of jewellery was stolen. He was positively identified as one of the men responsible at an ID parade but, after a submission by me that the parade had been unfairly conducted, the prosecution offered no evidence and W was found not guilty.
R v B (2010) B was caught with 14 kilograms of heroin and pleaded guilty on the basis he was a courier, being paid a few hundred pounds for delivering it. He pleaded guilty on that basis and received a sentence of four years imprisonment. The prosecution appealed this as unduly lenient but lost the appeal. At the confiscation proceedings, the prosecution alleged the benefit figure was over a million pounds (ie: the value of the heroin) and that as the defendant owned a large property portfolio that should be confiscated as realisable assets. Gary Bell argued that the benefit figure should be limited to the few hundred pounds B had been paid as a courier and not the full, one million pounds plus, value of the heroin. This was accepted by the judge after full argument and an order for confiscation in relation to the 14 kilograms of heroin was made in the sum of £200. The prosecution appealed this decision but the Court of Appeal rejected their appeal.
R v C (2010) C was one of twelve defendants charged with being involved in a large scale violent disorder which culminated in somebody being stabbed. Three police officers alleged C attacked and tried to kill them with two machetes. After a three month trial the jury were unable to reach a verdict and there was a re-trial, also lasting three months. The jury were again unable to reach a verdict against C. The prosecution then offered no evidence against him and verdicts of not guilty were entered.
R v C (2008) A large scale drugs conspiracy where C was the first defendant of 11 alleged to have been involved in the wholesale supply of heroin across the country. C was the main focus of the six-month investigation where two undercover police officers lived as a pretend man and wife in C’s community. The operation resulted in twenty-eight arrests. Most of the defendants pleaded guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence but six of them stood trial. After a three month trial the jury convicted all of the defendants but couldn’t agree on a verdict for C. He was tried again on his own and, after a two-month trial, acquitted unanimously by the jury.
R v N (2007) N was the first of eleven defendants facing a conspiracy to dump millions of items of mail, having been paid to deliver them. She was also charged with bribing a co-defendant to take the blame. She was advised to plead guilty on a limited basis, involving no admission that she dumped mail or bribed the co-defendant, and received a short prison sentence. As part of the plea bargain it was agreed that there would be no confiscation proceedings and no costs would be applied for.