Private and Corporate White-Collar Crime

Private and Corporate White-Collar Crime


White-collar crime refers to financially motivated, nonviolent crime committed by professionals and corporations. It is characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which is not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence. According to the type of offence, various cases are classified as property crime, economic crime and other corporate crimes like environmental law violations. Typical categories are money laundering, tax crimes, fraud, bank fraud, stock fraud, market manipulation, Ponzi schemes, insider trading, bribery, embezzlement, forgery and copyright infringement.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is the process of concealing the origins of illegally obtained money. Such concealment may extend from simply creating the appearance that illegally obtained money originated from a legitimate source to complex schemes of transactions involving off-shore jurisdictions. The purpose of concealment may extend from tax evasion to the funding of serious criminal activities.

Money laundering is a charge present in most public corruption cases jointly with other charges like bribery etc.

In cases where we represent the complainant (those who pursue alleged offenders),the money laundering legislation provides us with powerful tools for the revelation of concealed assets of our opponents globally, in order to secure -through their seizure- our clients’ claims either locally or internationally.

Respectively, in cases where we represent the defendant (those investigated by the authorities as suspects or accused of committing unlawful acts) we work for the reversal of restrictive measures on bank accounts, suspension of bank privacy etc. and the release of seized assets.

Tax- Tax evasion – Tax planning

Tax fraud and tax evasion encompass cases where the taxpayer or company intentionally defrauds the government by not paying taxes that are lawfully due.

Tax evasion in particular occurs when the taxpayer deliberately misrepresents taxable income, overstates expenses and deductions, fails to file tax returns etc.

Tax planning is the lawful arrangement of financial or commercial activity so that tax obligations are measured, predictable and minimised.

Embezzlement

Embezzlement is a form of white-collar crime wherein a person misappropriates the assets entrusted to him. The offender is given lawful possession of the property in question before incorporating the property to his personal assets. Embezzlement may be committed against both private individuals or corporations and against the State or Public Authorities and Institutions.

Forgery of documents

Forgery of documents is an offence that consists of false creation or alteration of a document with the specific intent to defraud the recipient. There is a variety of types of falsifying documents that involves making, altering, or modifying a document for the purpose of deception.

Bribery

Bribery is the offer or acceptance of anything of value in exchange for favourable treatment bya government/public official or employee, such as awards of government contracts in the framework of public procurement of products, services or public works. 

Blackmail and Extortion

Several types of criminal behavior consisting of a demand for money or other consideration under threat fall under the scope of blackmail and extortion. Threats may refer to someone’s life, damage to someone’s health and body, property, business, profession, reputation. Especially through the internet, threats may refer to revealing someone’s secrets, personal life details, personal data, audiovisual material etc. Criminal behavior may extend to actual physical violence besides verbal threats. Offering “protection” against such threats from third parties is also a criminal offence when such "protection" is simply abstinence of harm from the same party and such is implied in the "protection" offer. 

Criminal Usury

Usury is the act of lending money at an interest rate that is considered unreasonably high or that is higher than the rate permitted by law. In modern times, usury can escape the loan-shark stereotype, which is usually associated with threats of violence for the collection of debts and manifest in the form of sophisticated, otherwise legitimate contracts regarding various financing activities such as business loans, shipping/maritime loans etc. In most jurisdictions usurious lending is sanctioned by civil law and in many of them usury also constitutes a severely punished criminal offence. Civil sanctions render the usurious lending agreement null and void as to the excessive interest and criminal ones can reach the severity of those imposed for felonies. National laws and practices vary as to the sanctioning of usury, with the United Kingdom traditionally following an approach of abstaining from regulating private interest rates, while in the US legislation varies significantly between states since federal law is incomprehensive. At the EU level, mild harmonization is considered inadequate, the European Consumer Credit Directive being criticized as ineffective as it focuses mainly on improved disclosure of contract terms and sufficient information of consumers and not tackling the issues of inequality of power between contracting parts.

Insider trading

Insider trading is the practice of using information that has not been made public to execute trading decisions giving traders an unfair advantage over others. Most forms of insider trading are illegal.

Market manipulation

Market manipulation refers to any attempt to interfere with the normal free operation of the market and to create an artificial market for a security, currency, or commodity. Examples of market manipulation may include stock-market manipulation, index manipulation etc.

Environmental Crimes

The term “environmental crime” covers the whole spectrum of activities that breach environmental legislation and cause significant harm or risk to the environment, human health, or both. Environmental crimes cause significant damage to the environment, providing at the same time high profits for perpetrators and relatively low risks of detection. Very often, environmental crimes have a cross-border aspect. Besides national legislation, international bodies such as the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, G8, Interpol, EU, and the UN Environment Programme are pushing forward criminal prosecution of environmental crimes. The most important categories are improper collection, transport, recovery or disposal of waste, illegal operation of a plant in which a dangerous activity is carried out or in which dangerous substances or preparations are stored, killing, destruction, possession or trade of protected wild animal or plant species, production, importation, exportation, marketing or use of ozone-depleting substances etc.

At the European level, Directive 2008/99/EC on the Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law requires Member States to provide for criminal sanctions for the most serious environmental offences because only this type of measure is considered adequate and dissuasive enough to achieve proper implementation of environmental law. The Directive lays down a list of environmental offences that must be considered criminal offences by all Member States, if committed intentionally or with serious negligence. The Member States are required by the Directive to attach criminal sanctions to already existing prohibitions.

At the US level, many federal environmental statutes have criminal provisions. These include the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly called the Clean Water Act), the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (the Refuse Act), the Clean Air Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). “Responsible corporate officers” are specifically included as potential defendants in criminal prosecutions under the act. They can include officers who have responsibility over a project carried out by subcontractors and their employees.

At the international level, in 2016 it was announced that the International Criminal Court of The Hague will prosecute governments and individuals for environmental crimes. According to the Case Selection Criteria announced by the Prosecutor’s Office, the ICC will give particular consideration to prosecuting crimes that are committed by means of, or that result in, inter alia, the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources or the illegal dispossession of land.

Fraud

Fraud


Fraud in general involves the deceptive representation of facts either by intentionally withholding important information or by providing false statements with the purpose of acquiring unlawful gain. It may arise in commercial relations, finance, real estate, investment etc. Particular types of fraud include bank fraud, stock fraud, corporate fraud, Ponzi schemes, mortgage fraud etc.

Bank Fraud

Can be defined as an unethical and/or criminal act by an individual or organization to illegally attempt to possess or receive money from a bank or financial institution either directly or by abusing the bank’s reputation to deceptively gain profits from individuals, potential investors etc.

Loan Fraud

Loan fraud is a crime in which the intent is to materially misrepresent or omit information on a loan application in order to obtain a loan or to obtain a larger loan than could have been obtained had the lender known the truth. Accomplices of the perpetrator are often certain bank agents (employees or high rank officers) with whose participation of approval the banking institution enters to a loan contract to its loss. Our firm has a long history of success in representing both the beneficiaries of such loans as well as accused bank officers and complainant bank shareholders.

Stock Fraud

Stock and investment fraud is a deceptive practice in the stock or commodities markets that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information. It involves criminal liability of companies’ officers towards shareholders and investors and concerns stocks regardless of whether they are traded in the stock market or not.

Corporate Fraud

Corporate fraud consists of activities undertaken by an individual or company that are done in a dishonest or illegal manner and are designed to give an advantage to the perpetrating individual or company. For example the falsification of financial information, self-dealing by corporate insiders etc.

Insurance Fraud

To engage in an act or pattern of activity wherein one obtains proceeds from an insurance company through deception.

Ponzi Schemes

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors. A Ponzi scheme generates returns for older investors by acquiring new investors and using the new investors’ capital for the older investors’ returns. This is similar to a pyramid scheme in that both are based on using new participants to pay earlier participants.

Check Kiting

Check kiting is a form of fraud consisting of intentionally issuing checks for a value greater than the account balance and using them as cover for the issuance of more checks from another bank. In this way, instead of being used as negotiable instruments, checks are misused as a form of false credit.

Legal Abuse

Legal abuse refers to unfair or improper legal action initiated with malicious intentions. Abuse can originate from nearly any part of the legal system, including litigants, law enforcement agents or attorneys or from the judiciary itself. Abusive litigants in civil cases often seek to harass or subdue an adversary. In more serious cases, litigants abuse the legal system by falsification of evidence usually with the purpose to mislead the court into issuing a decision which adjudicates sums of money or other to them.  Frameup, is the term for the manufacture or manipulation of evidence for the purpose of indicating the guilt of an innocent party.

Liability of 
Companies' Officers

Liability of 
Companies' Officers


Corporate directors, officers and employees can be held criminally liable for any criminal acts that they personally commit within the scope of their duties. State authorities, regulators, shareholders and third parties, such as consumers and suppliers scrutinize corporate conduct putting corporate directors, officers and employees in a high-risk position as regards sanctions. Corporate officers may be held accountable for misconduct of the corporate entity against the State, public interest or third parties. They may also be held accountable for wrongdoings against the corporate entity itself or its shareholders. They may also be held criminally responsible for criminal acts committed by their agents, or for any crime that they aid and abet. The tightening of relevant legislation and aggressive government enforcement is today’s reality. This complex set of cases is effectively handled by our specialized departments often in cooperation.

Liability towards the State and Regulating Authorities

Corporate conduct is nowadays strictly monitored by:

Government Authorities such as Tax Authorities, specialized Units of the Police, Social Welfare Funds, Financial Crime Units, Anti-Money Laundering Units, Local Government, Environmental Protection Authorities etc.

Sectoral Regulating Authorities such as Central Banks, Stock Exchange Regulators, Insurance Market Regulators, Mass Media Regulators etc.

Liability towards third parties

Corporate directors, officers and employees can be held criminally liable for any criminal acts of the corporate entity, which in itself cannot be a subject of criminal sanctions. Corporate agents in general are held criminally liable for the misdeeds of the corporation towards consumers, investors, traders, suppliers and affected citizens of the community in general, according to the scope of their duties. Liability may cover the whole spectrum of criminal law including acts like fraud, embezzlement, forging of documents, bribery, money laundering etc.

Liability towards the Corporation or Shareholders

Corporate directors, officers and employees may also be held criminally liable towards the corporation itself or its shareholders in cases of loss of corporate funds in favour of a person who has no right to such. These cases may constitute breach of trust or misappropriation of funds.

Professional Liability

Professional Liability


Professional liability is liability incurred by professionals, such as physicians, lawyers, notaries, accountants, engineers etc. as a result of errors, negligent acts or omissions while practicing their profession. While professional liability insurance is addressed by civil liability, criminal prosecution for serious felonies such as embezzlement, breach of trust, misappropriation of funds, aiding and abetting to serious offences like tax offences, money laundering and breach of duty by public officials and even manslaughter or homicide in cases of medical malpractice, will probably follow

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is defined as any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient. It is usually a field of tempestuous litigation. Among the acts or omissions that may potentially support medical malpractice accusations are the failure to properly diagnose a medical condition, the failure to provide appropriate treatment for a medical condition or unreasonable delay in treating a diagnosed medical condition. It could also arise where a patient was not properly informed of possible consequences of a course of treatment and would have made other choices had proper information been provided in advance. Physicians, surgeons and gynecologists-obstetricians are most often targeted by malpractice accusations and litigation may extend to the hospital administrators in some cases. AG Law has a long-standing tradition in handling such cases, usually involving the most prominent doctors, with an astonishing success record. 

Lawyers

Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney commits an error, omission or breach of duty to the client or the justice system that results in a negative legal outcome or monetary loss for the client or a third party. Liability for an attorney, solicitor, barrister etc. may arise from conflict of interest of the clients represented, errors or omissions resulting in negative outcome of a client's case, missing statute of limitation deadlines, misappropriation of client funds, poorly drafted legal documents, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of attorney-client privilege, lack of due diligence, improper legal advice, malicious or frivolous litigation, excessive litigation at the client's expense etc. Such actions may constitute serious criminal offences and are can also be brought before the disciplinary boards of the Bar of which the attorney is a member. 

Notaries

Notaries are holders of public office who undertake non-contentious transactional work and are also holders of public records. They have jurisdiction over a large range of transactions in the areas of property law, family law, agency, wills and succession and company formation. Apart from their obligations towards their clients, their role as fiduciaries of public interest confers many responsibilities towards the State and state agencies. It is high-risk profession for civil and criminal liability.

Accountants and Auditors

Drafting and filing tax statements, making sure taxes are paid properly and within deadline, performing overviews of the financial operations of a business, performing audits, and reporting data to the authorities are some of the serious tasks performed by accountants and auditors, bringing great responsibilities. Accountant and auditor malpractice is a growing issue in an era of close state monitoring, transaction complexity and pressure by businesses to meet targets. Improper tax returns, incorrect advice on accounting matters, poorly kept financial books, faulty audits, failure to detect fraud, violations of securities legislation, deviations from generally accepted accounting standards, faulty estate planning advice, license fraud and embezzlement are the most common grounds of liability. In many cases, especially where the interests of the state are damaged, auditors and accountants can face serious criminal accusations, either as perpetrators or as accessories to their client.

Public Corruption

Public Corruption


Public corruption is dishonest behaviour by those in positions of power in the public sector, such as government officials. Corruption may include:

  • Receiving or accepting bribes.
  • Embezzlement
  • Under-the-table transactions in the framework of public procurement of products, services or public works.
  • Misappropriation of public property.
  • Breach of duty

All funds transferred in the framework of the above activities are considered as product of money laundering.

Bribery

Bribery is the offer or acceptance of anything of value in exchange for favourable treatment on a government/public official or employee, such as awards of government contracts in the framework of public procurement of products, services or public works. 
Particularly in the U.S.A., the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) is a federal law that prohibits U.S. citizens and entities from bribing foreign government officials to benefit their business interests. The FCPA is applicable worldwide and extends specifically to publicly traded companies and their personnel, including officers, directors, employees, shareholders etc. The Act also requires businesses to comply with certain accounting and internal audit provisions to ensure transparency. The FCPA is jointly enforced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which apply criminal and civil penalties respectively.

Embezzlement

Embezzlement is a form of white-collar crime wherein a person misappropriates the assets entrusted to him. The offender is given lawful possession of the property in question before incorporating the property to his personal assets. Embezzlement may be committed against both private individuals or entities and against the State or Public Authorities and Institutions.

Misappropriation of funds

Misappropriation of funds consists of acts by an authorized official resulting in loss of State or private funds by awarding a subsidy, grant or exemption in favour of a person who has no right to such a decision. Misappropriation of funds is a charge present in every public corruption case jointly with other charges like bribery etc.

Breach of duty

Breach of duty is an offence committed by a State officer who, in order to illegally receive benefits or harm the State, breaches the duties of his office. It is an offense usually concurrent with other forms of criminal behaviour or misconduct by State officers. 

Government Benefits Fraud

Government benefits fraud is the act of illegally using state procedures by knowingly withholding or giving information to obtain more funds than would otherwise be allocated. Benefits may refer to a wide range of state funds from social welfare to entrepreneurship motivation funds, state aids, EU subsidies etc. Such offences are often committed with the participation of State officials using their authority and influence to circumscribe procedures, provide false approvals and facilitate such unlawful acts.

Data Protection – GDPR

Data Protection – GDPR


The protection of personal data and privacy of individuals is one of fundamental human rights. Data protection law grants the data subjects, i.e. individuals, certain rights and imposes certain responsibilities on data controllers, i.e. anyone who stores and processes personal data. Legislation covers citizens from the unlawful processing of their personal data and provides protection in case it is established that their rights have been violated in any sector (financial, communications, health, insurance, education, public administration, transport, mass media, etc). 

General Data Protection Regulation 

The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR) is an EU regulation on data protection and privacy in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas. The GDPR aims primarily to give control to individuals over their personal data and to unify the regulation framework within the EU. It contains provisions and requirements related to the processing of personal data of individuals (data subjects) who are located in the EEA, and applies to any enterprise, regardless of its location, that is processing the personal information of data subjects inside the EEA.

Controllers and processors of personal data must put in place appropriate technical and organizational measures to implement the data protection principles. Business procedures of handling personal data must be designed and built with consideration of the GDPR principles and provide safeguards to protect data (for example, using pseudonymization or full anonymization where appropriate). Data controllers must design information systems with privacy in mind, for instance use the highest-possible privacy settings by default, so that the data are not publicly available and cannot be used to identify a subject. No personal data may be processed unless this processing is done under one of six lawful bases specified by the Regulation, i.e. consent, contract, public task, vital interest, legitimate interest or legal requirement. When the processing is based on consent the data subject has the right to revoke it at any time.

Data controllers must clearly disclose any data collection, declare the lawful basis and purpose for data processing, and state how long data is being retained and if it is being shared with any third parties in or outside of the EEA. Data subjects have the right to request a portable copy of the data collected by a controller in a common format, and the right to have their data erased under certain circumstances. Public authorities, and businesses whose core activities consist of regular or systematic processing of personal data, are required to employ a data protection officer (DPO), who is responsible for managing compliance with the GDPR. Businesses must report data breaches to national supervisory authorities within 72 hours if they have an adverse effect on user privacy. In some cases, violators of the GDPR may be fined up to €20 million or up to 4% of the annual worldwide turnover of the preceding financial year in case of an enterprise, whichever is greater.

GDPR - Basic Principles

Personal data may not be processed unless there is at least one legal basis to do so. Article 6 states the lawful purposes:

*If the data subject has given consent to the processing of his or her personal data;

* To fulfill contractual obligations with a data subject, or for tasks at the request of a data subject who is in the process of entering into a contract;

*To comply with a data controller's legal obligations;

* To protect the vital interests of a data subject or another individual;

* To perform a task in the public interest or in official authority;

* For the legitimate interests of a data controller or a third party, unless these interests are overridden by interests of the data subject or her or his rights according to the Charter of Fundamental Rights (especially in the case of children).

GDPR – Rights of the Data Subject

* Transparency and modalities
The Regulation equires that the data controller provides information to the data subject in a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language, in particular for any information addressed specifically to a child.

*Information and Access
The right of access gives people the right to access their personal data and information about how this personal data is being processed. A data controller must provide, upon request, an overview of the categories of data that are being processed as well as a copy of the actual data. Furthermore, the data controller has to inform the data subject on details about the processing, such as the purposes of the processing, whom the data is shared with and how the data was acquired.

* Rectification and erasure
The data subject has the right to request correction of erroneous data and also the right to request erasure of personal data within 30 days, on a number of grounds.

* Right to object and automated decisions
The Regulation allows an individual to object to processing personal information for marketing, sales, or non-service related purposes. This means the data controller must allow an individual the right to stop or prevent controller from processing their personal data. Moreover, the data controller must inform individuals of their right to object from the first communication he has with them.

GDPR - Security of personal data
The data controller is under a legal obligation to notify the supervisory authority without undue delay in case of a breach of the data security, unless the breach is unlikely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of the individuals. There is a maximum of 72 hours after becoming aware of the data breach to make the report. Individuals have to be notified if a high risk of an adverse impact is determined. In addition, the data processor will have to notify the controller without undue delay after becoming aware of a personal data breach.

GDPR - Data protection officer

A data protection officer (DPO), i.e. a person with expert knowledge of data protection law and practices must be designated to assist the controller or processor in monitoring their internal compliance with the Regulation. A designated DPO can be a current member of staff of a controller or processor, or the role can be outsourced to an external person or agency. In any case, the processing body must make sure that there is no conflict of interest in other roles or interests that a DPO may hold. The contact details for the DPO must be published by the processing organisation and registered with the supervisory authority.

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USA

Federal and state regulation

In the US there isn’t a central federal level privacy law, like the EU’s GDPR <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.varonis.com_blog_what-2Dis-2Dthe-2Deu-2Dgeneral-2Ddata-2Dprotection-2Dregulation_&d=DwMFaQ&c=HdAUNv_EOZyljLc1cjbHCq-Eo7r1kRHoywhQbi81uaA&r=NUgt99zoh2_KM-5dPKTA4tPLgLfcPnb19N6dt1Rkc6Q&m=tnUmOrPmZLtEVg7yz3_FYAr9rJZ_K-Q6dFfkO8WT_y4&s=Iu7bu_Mpbr8-U8vTBF37eW1y-V6nNpbKYb9i6IthIGM&e=> . There is instead a network of laws enacted both on federal and on state levels, many of which primarily address specific sectors, such as financial services or healthcare and often have overlapping provisions. Between state legislation there are often differences in the definition of personal data or in what constitutes a data breach. Several states have separate data disposal and date privacy laws. In the past few years, increased legislative activity at state level started focusing towards more broad-based consumer privacy. California was the first state to enact such legislation with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), a broad privacy law inspired in part by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that is aimed at protecting personal information of consumers across industry. Since then, numerous other states have proposed similarly broad privacy legislation, while multiple comprehensive privacy bills have been introduced at the federal level in the US Congress.

There is no single regulatory authority dedicated to overseeing data protection law in the US. At the federal level, the regulatory authority responsible for oversight depends on the field of regulation in question. In the financial services context, for example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and various financial services regulators have adopted standards that dictate how firms may collect, use and disclose non-public personal information. Similarly, in the healthcare context, the Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for enforcement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Outside of the regulated industries context, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the primary federal privacy regulator in the US. The FTC has used its authority to bring numerous privacy enforcement actions for a wide range of alleged violations by entities whose information practices have been deemed ‘deceptive’ or ‘unfair’. At the state level, attorneys general also have the ability to bring enforcement actions for unfair or deceptive trade practices, or to enforce violations of specific state privacy laws. Some state privacy laws allow affected individuals to bring lawsuits to enforce violations of the law.

USA and the GDPR

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to companies outside the EU because it is extra-territorial in scope. It is designed not to regulate businesses as to protect the data subjects’ rights. A “data subject” is any person in the EU, including citizens, residents, and even visitors. Collecting any personal data of people in the EU, requires compliance with the GDPR. Non-compliance with GDPR could result to serious fines reaching up to €20 million or 4% of the company’s annual turnover! In certain cases, organisations based outside the EU must also appoint an EU-based person as a representative and point of contact for their GDPR obligations. This is a distinct role from a DPO, although there is overlap in responsibilities that suggest that this role can also be held by the designated DPO.

Cybercrime

Cybercrime


Cybercrime is a crime that involves computers and networks. Computers and networks may have been used as means to commit the crime or may be the target. The motive is to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm or loss to the victim directly or indirectly using modern telecommunication networks such as Internet and mobile phones. In particular, computer fraud is any dishonest misrepresentation of fact intended to lead a person to do or refrain from doing something which causes loss.

Internet fraud

Internet fraud is a general term used to describe any type of fraud which makes use of Internet services or software with Internet access. The methods used by perpetrators to defraud potential victims are numerous and may involve: Credit card fraud, internet auction fraud, investment fraud, non-delivery of merchandise, gambling fraud, identity theft, phishing etc.

Phishing

Phishing is a cybercrime in which targets are contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone pretending to represent a legitimate institution, aiming to lure individuals into providing sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information, banking and credit card details and passwords. Users are often lured by communications purporting to be from trusted parties such as social web sites, auction sites, banks, online payment processors or IT administrators. The information is then used to access important accounts and can result in identity theft and financial loss.

Cryptocurrency scam

Cryptocurrencies are digital assets designed to function as media of exchange using strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units and verify the transfer of assets. Cryptocurrencies are thus a kind of alternative, digital currencies. Decentralized control is used, as opposed to centralized digital currency and central banking systems. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be released in 2009 and since the thousands of others have been created (Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero etc.). Explosive popularity of cryptocurrencies in combination with hope for large profits and incomplete knowledge and due diligence on the part of potential investors is the cause of serious incidents of cryptocurrency scam. Cryptocurrency hacks, pyramids, Ponzi schemes, pump and dump (price manipulation) schemes, fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings and other deceptive means are used to lure investors into loosing large amounts of assets.

Cryptocurrencies used for money-laundering

Cryptocurrencies are not regulated by central banks but are held digitally via electronic identities that in many cases allow their owners to remain anonymous. Because of the semi-anonymous and decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies, there is fear that certain platforms could be used for money laundering. Among jurisdictions there are various approaches and opinions regarding the extent of regulation of cryptocurrencies.

Ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software that threatens to publish the victim's data or block access to it unless ransom is paid. In serious cases of ransomware, advanced cryptoviral malware is used which encrypts the victim's files, making them inaccessible, while the perpetrators demand a ransom payment to decrypt them. In such cases, regaining access to the victim’s data is rendered impossible while cryptocurrencies are used for the payment of ransom, making tracing and prosecuting the perpetrators very difficult. In the recent years ransomware scams have tremendously grown internationally.

Blackmail and Extortion

Several types of criminal behavior consisting of a demand for money or other consideration under threat fall under the scope of blackmail and extortion. Threats may refer to someone’s life, damage to someone’s health and body, property, business, profession, reputation. Especially through the internet, threats may refer to revealing someone’s secrets, personal life details, personal data, audiovisual material etc. Criminal behavior may extend to actual physical violence besides verbal threats. Offering “protection” against such threats from third parties is also a criminal offence when such "protection" is simply abstinence of harm from the same party and such is implied in the "protection" offer. 

Hacking

Hacking generally refers to unauthorized intrusion into a computer or a network. The person engaged in hacking activities is known as a hacker. This hacker may alter system or security features to accomplish a goal that differs from the original purpose of the system. Hackers employ a variety of techniques for hacking, including: Recovering passwords from data stored or transmitted by computer systems, capturing data packets in order to view data and passwords in transit over networks, setting up websites which falsify data by mimicking legitimate sites and are therefore treated as trusted sites by users or other programs, planting a trojan horse or another type of virus. The motives of a hacking attack could vary from illegitimate financial gain, in cases of credit card fraud, manipulating banking systems or corporate espionage to personal motives such as vandalizing.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else's identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other person's name and perhaps to the other person's disadvantage or loss. The person whose identity has been assumed may suffer adverse consequences, especially if they are held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. According to the intended use, identity theft may take the form of financial identity theft, criminal identity theft, social security identity theft, medical identity theft, insurance identity theft etc.

Various Cyber-scam practices

Increasing awareness about cyber-scams forces perpetrators to come up with varied practices to defraud victims. As a result, nowadays there are a number of practices used to extract money or data from victims through networks, such as VoIP spam or SPIT (spam over Internet telephony), SMS phishing (“smishing”), caller ID spoofing, phone fraud or voice phishing (“vhishing”), pharming etc.

Intellectual Property Infringements

Intellectual Property Infringements


This is the usage of an entity’s trademarks, brands or copyright without the owner’s authorization. Our firm has decades of tradition and top reputation in successfully handling such cases.

Copyright 

Copyright is a set of rights vested to the creator of an original work, such as a book, an article, song, photograph etc. These rights include the right to reproduce the work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies, to display and perform the work publicly etc. The author of the work may transfer his rights, or part of them through licensing, assigning, and other legal formulas. The use of works protected by copyright law without permission may constitute an infringement against which copyright holders have significant legal and technological measures at their disposal in order to prevent and criminally pursue such behaviour.

Trademarks

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods or services of a certain party from those of others. Examples include brand names, slogans, and logos. Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark, or a substantially similar one, on competing or related goods and services. Likelihood of consumer confusion is the criterion on whether there has been an infringement. 

Patents

Patents are inventions, such as machines, manufactures, compositions of matter or processes. Certain computer programs may fall within the subject matter protected by both patents and copyrights. Patent law protects inventors by granting them exclusive rights, comprising of rights to prevent others from manufacturing, selling, using or importing the patented invention.

Designs

The appearance of a product, in particular the shape, texture, colour, materials used, ornamentation etc. are characteristics that can qualify as “designs”. Protection may fall under copyright law, unregistered design rights or registered designs law.

Media Law – Liability

Media Law – Liability


Media law regulates the mass media including television, radio, internet broadcasting, and print media. The activity of mass media, protected in principle by the freedom of expression, is widely regulated by national legislation overseen by national regulatory authorities. In addition, the practice of media law intersects with various fields of law since a broad spectrum of legal issues arise during the production, broadcasting and functioning of media enterprises.

Supervision by national regulatory authorities

Most jurisdictions, while protecting freedom of expression on a constitutional level, oversee the operation of mass media enterprises through national regulatory agencies and authorities such as the Federal Communications Commission (U.S.A.), the Conseil Supérieur de l’ Audiovisuel (France), etc. These agencies supervise the enforcement of important and often strict and detailed legislation and have authority to impose serious sanctions in cases of non-compliance. Such legislation covers a broad range of fields such as ownership and transparency issues, content issues including defamation, dissemination of fake news, broadcasting of obscene material, regulation of advertising and product promotion, etc. Due to the range of activities carried out by media enterprises, compliance with the rules of several regulatory bodies such as telecommunication regulatory agencies, regarding technical issues, gaming authorities etc. is closely monitored. 

Transparency and ownership issues

Because of the great influence that mass media exert on individuals, authorities, governments, and the economy in general, many jurisdictions impose strict rules as to the transparency of ownership and administration of mass media enterprises. Transparency of assets and income is also strictly scrutinized. Moreover, many jurisdictions impose rules on the affiliation of such parties to the State and politicians, to the extent of restricting the undertaking of public works and public procurement by large shareholders of mass media enterprises. Breaches of such legislation may result in serious criminal sanctions.

Copyright infringements

The use of trademarks, brands or copyright without the owner’s permission or authorization is a serious criminal offence. Copyright is a set of rights vested to the creator of an original work, such as a book, article, video, song, photograph etc. These rights include the right to reproduce the work, to distribute copies, to display and perform the work publicly etc. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the goods or services of a certain party from those of others. The broadcasting of large amounts of information to the public, often leads to intellectual property disputes, while the holders of such rights have significant legal and technological measures at their disposal in order to prevent and criminally pursue such behavior.

Defamation

Defamation is the presentation of untruthful information about a person or entity. Slander constitutes of making false spoken statements damaging to a person's reputation, while libel is defamation in written form. In some cases, republication of someone else's defamatory statement can itself be defamatory. Because of the mass media’s vast audience, defamation is a major field of litigation in media law with serious civil and criminal consequences. Mediation and negotiations often play an important role leading to the extra-judicial settlement of such cases.

Large Enterprise Issues

As large enterprises, media corporations face serious legal challenges common to all major business entities, such as labour and employment issues, social security issues, tax law issues, asset and income transparency issues, breach of contract disputes and corporate law issues, all presenting serious legal aspects and the threat of severe sanctions.