A City lawyer has been convicted for “tipping off” one of his clients about a money laundering investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
William Osmond, founder of commercial and property law firm Osmond & Osmond Solicitor, tipped off James Reeding Ramsay, after the SFO handed him a Section 2 notice requiring him to hand over documents.
Solicitors are legally obliged not to share details of money laundering investigations into their clients.
Osmond is the first ever solicitor that the SFO has prosecuted with “tipping off” a client.
The SFO investigators made enquiries about businessman James Redding Ramsay in 2018 after he had paid £4m toward the purchase of a Mayfair property.
But Osmond immediately contacted Ramsay to inform him about the investigation.
Osmond went on to meet Ramsay multiple times to discuss the matter over the following five months, including flying out to Ramsay’s home in Malta and meeting him at a West London private dining club.
The lawyer was also found to have supplied the SFO with a fake “letter of engagement” that set out his role as solicitor for a British Virgin Islands company which was purchased by Ramsay and used to move funds for the purchase of the London property.
Investigators from the SFO searched his office in 2019 and found five pages of hand-written notes on his discussions with Ramsay and computer files that showed his forgery of the legal letter.
The lawyer faced the criminal trial in March and was convicted at the Old Bailey yesterday.
He will be sentenced on 30 November at the Old Bailey.