SFO Blockbuster Case Collapses

After five days of legal submissions, Mr Justice Hickinbottom has dismissed a charge of conspiracy to defraud against five defendants in a commercial transaction worth £170 million. A sixth defendant who did not participate in the dismissal application also benefitted from the decision.

The first Defendant, Eric Evans, was represented by Ben Douglas-Jones, as specialist fraud and regulatory Counsel and door tenant with Linenhall Chambers, led by criminal Silk, Patrick Harrington QC, of Farrar’s Building, John de Waal QC, specialist Chancery Silk, instructed by Blackfords Solicitors, South Wales’ leading fraud specialists. The Defendants, a retired consultant solicitor, Eric Evans, his professional partner, Alan Whiteley, and assistant solicitor, Frances Bodman, had between them set up a complex commercial transaction involving opencast mining sites and restoration obligations; a fifth defendant, Stephen Davies QC, had advised on the legality of the scheme.

Central to the scheme was Celtic Energy Ltd, South Wales’ most successful mining company, whose 100% shareholder Richard Walters and their finance director Leighton Humphreys were also been charged.

During detailed submissions which were in effect upheld in a long and detailed judgment today, Eric Evans, previously been described as South Wales’ doyen of commercial property and land law, was head of property at a firm of solicitors in Cardiff. Mr Evans and Mr Humphreys had always vehemently denied having done anything wrong, although they were keen to show that it was commercially adept. Their position was wholly vindicated by the ruling of the learned judge.