Hodge Jones and Allen yesterday secured the acquittal of their client Florenc Hoxha at Southwark Crown Court, following a three-month trial and one of the largest fraudulent trading investigations undertaken by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).
Florenc Hoxha, aged 32 years old and from Stratford, was falsely accused by BIS of being complicit in a practice known as “long firm fraud”, a dishonest criminal enterprise which targets wholesale suppliers of goods. The enterprise usually operates through the medium of limited liability companies who acquire goods on credit and never pay for them. It is called long firm because the fraud moves from one company to the next. No sooner does one company end its participation in the scam then another takes it place.
It was alleged that Mr Hoxha knowingly participated in this fraud when he was a director of a building company, Blue Chip Limited in the East Midlands during 2003 and 2004, which left its creditors with a loss of around £367,000.
The vast majority of defendants were convicted in what will be seen as a big success for BIS. However, a jury returned a not guilty verdict and cleared Mr Hoxha.
Ruth Harris, is a criminal defence specialist at Hodge Jones & Allen and represented Mr Hoxha, she says: “Naturally my client is delighted to have been cleared. The reality all along was that he was deliberately set up by seasoned criminals as a “fall guy” and is as much the victim in all this as the creditors.”
One of the UK’s leading crime lawyers, Raj Chada, also from Hodge Jones & Allen, acted as an advocate in the case and says: “This was one of the largest ever prosecutions by BIS, with a couple of dozen companies involved and spanning over 10 years. It’s been an incredibly complicated but we’re delighted for the client that we prevailed. Counsel was Jonathan Mann QC of Doughty Street Chambers.
The mastermind of the fraud was Demitris Bains who in an earlier trial in January 2015 pleaded guilty to using nine limited liability companies to trade fraudulently. It was estimated during the trial that in excess of £10 million had been defrauded from creditors of all the companies in the long firm fraud.
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Hodge Jones & Allen LLP was founded in 1977 in Camden and has 200 staff based in Euston NW1. The firm practices personal injury, clinical negligence, civil liberties, family law, wills and probate, housing, dispute resolution, criminal defence and serious fraud.