David Walbank QC

Call: 1987 | Silk: 2018

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Personal profile

Having historically had conduct of many of the most complex cases for all the major fraud prosecution agencies (including as former Standing Counsel to the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office and Standing Counsel to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), David’s work is now almost exclusively for front-rank fraud defence firms.

He is the founder and frontman of the updating website crimecast.law on which he presents video case reviews of recent judgments. The site currently hosts more than 200 free-to-view videos. He is also the crime correspondent for the New Law Journal, commenting on recent case law in his ‘Crime Brief’ column.

Recommendations

In court he is utterly dogged, and will pursue any point he feels will assist his case, especially in cross-examination. He takes no prisoners and, if you are in a case against him, prepare to be battered, bruised and charmed by the end of it.

― Legal 500 (2021)

A fierce advocate and someone who is not afraid to take on difficult cases – he’s someone you want in your corner.

― Chambers UK (2021)

Fantastic and a fine advocate. He is always better prepared than anyone in the courtroom and he puts in an astounding amount of hours.

― Chambers UK (2020)

He’s very smooth, has a lovely way of dealing with tricky clients and deals with everything beautifully.

― Chambers UK (2020)

David Walbank QC is ‘an advocate of exceptional ability … he possesses a first-class legal mind … his command of the courtroom is nothing short of awe-inspiring … he is intelligent, articulate and fearless … he goes above and beyond the call of duty … his integrity, work ethic and intelligence are a sight to behold … David Walbank QC is outstanding in fraud matters … he is highly recommended for serious fraud cases… A combination of charm and steel’.

― Legal 500 (2019)

David is ‘a very tenacious and bold advocate who is extremely hard-working and a brilliant cross-examiner … He fights his client’s corner with absolute vigour … He is highly proficient in in complex tax fraud and money laundering cases’.

― Chambers UK (2019)

A brave, fierce and hardworking advocate … well known for cases involving fraud, money laundering and bribery.

― Legal 500 (2017)

A highly experienced advocate … outstanding in fraud cases.

― Legal 500 (2016)

Known for his defence practice, which has an emphasis on white collar crime.

― Legal 500 (2015)

Business Crime & Fraud

David has vast experience in the field of Business Crime & Fraud and is currently briefed by a series of top-tier white collar defence firms, in major fraud prosecutions.

Featured cases

  • Operation Salmon (August 2020 to date) – Currently briefed in this case involving allegations of a contrived outsourced labour provision model designed to defraud VAT and exploit the Employment Allowance regime, with an estimated revenue loss of £85.2m. There are extant restraint and judicial review proceedings. Instructed privately.
  • Operation Vanbrugh (December 2021 to date) – Currently briefed in this case investigated by the City of London Fraud Squad. The client is alleged to be the architect of a £50m Ponzi scheme, involving hundreds of victims. The case is fixed for trial at the Southwark Crown Court in March 2023. Instructed privately.
  • Operation Centrum (November 2020 to date) – Currently briefed in one of the longest running investigations by HMRC dating back more than ten years, with allegations of alcohol diversion fraud, VAT fraud and money-laundering on an industrial scale. The case is fixed for trial at the Southwark Crown Court in September 2022. Instructed under the ‘Very High Cost Case’ regime.
  • Operation Sanderling (September 2021 to date) – Currently briefed in what is alleged to be a multi-million pound furlough fraud. The case is fixed for trial in the Birmingham Crown Court in July 2023. Instructed privately.
  • R v JB (November 2019 to date) – Currently briefed in this alleged conspiracy to cheat the public revenue, involving the smuggling of multiple container loads of cigarettes worth tens of millions of pounds. This HMRC investigation was one of the first to result from the National Crime Squad’s Operation Venetic, which centred on the worldwide deployment of a covert implant into handsets using the EncroChat secure communications platform. The case is fixed for trial in the Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court in June 2023. Instructed privately.
  • R v JD (June 2022 to date) – Currently briefed in this prosecution for the evasion of Income Tax through the alleged exploitation of charitable trusts and the Gift Aid provisions. The case has been sent to the Southwark Crown Court. Instructed privately.
  • R v S-R (January 2021 to date) – Currently briefed in this prosecution for fraud by abuse of position through the alleged exploitation of a Power of Attorney to denude an elderly man (now deceased) of his entire estate, including his home, share portfolio and the contents of his bank accounts. The case is fixed for trial in Luton Crown Court in February 2023. Instructed privately.
  • Operation Agile (March 2018 to January 2019) – Secured a not guilty verdict on behalf of the main defendant in this three-month bribery and corruption trial at the Southwark Crown Court, which was widely reported as Big Oil On Trial. The client was the International Business Development Manager for F.H.Bertling Ltd, a global freight-forwarder, and was alleged to have been the architect of a conspiracy involving senior executives at Bertling and at Conoco Phillips, the US oil and gas giant.
  • R v JM (April 2017- October 2018) – This prosecution arose from an investigation by the City of London Police into the financial affairs of a man previously convicted of large-scale money-laundering activity. The defendant was alleged to be a professional money-launderer for a Liverpool-based Organised Crime Group. Following a series of disclosure requests which were submitted for information held by the Ministry of Justice and by the Insolvency Service, the Crown offered no evidence.
  • Operation Amazon (2016-2017) – A tax-incentivised carbon credit investment scheme, where £110m revenue was alleged to have been put at risk, resulting in a ten-year investigation by HMRC and a nine-month trial before a High Court judge in the Southwark Crown Court.
  • R v JR (2017) – Successfully dismissed laundering charges on the grounds that the predicate tax offences had not yet crystallised, an early application of the Supreme Court’s decision in R v GH.
  • R v CH (2017) – Secured the dismissal of the charges on the ground that there had been no false representation under the Fraud Act 2006 where reverse proxy websites had been used to circumvent the effect of High Court injunctions obtained against UK internet service providers.
  • R v TD (2016) – The jury was discharged following a submission that the offence of Cheating the Public Revenue was not complete at the time of arrest: the defendant then received a suspended sentence following a Goodyear indication in relation to an amended indictment.
  • R v MR (2016) – Apple iPhone fraud. The prosecution offered no evidence following a successful submission regarding the inadmissibility of the crucial bank records.
  • R v KS (2015) – An allegedly fraudulent investment scheme, involving timeshare properties in the United States and in which the victims were senior police officers. Following successful admissibility arguments, the prosecution offered no evidence.
  • R v RS (2015) – Instructed to represent the lead defendant on money-laundering charges arising from a large-scale excise fraud.
  • R v RA (2014) – Instructed to represent a solicitor, who was charged with money-laundering offences arising from a Solicitors Regulation Authority investigation. The defendant was acquitted.
  • R v RP (2013) – Instructed to lead the defence of a number of men charged with a complex Film Tax Credit fraud. The defendant was acquitted.
  • R v DW (2013) – A massive land bank prosecution alleged by the prosecution to be worth £35m.
  • R v SY (2013) – Instructed to represent a ‘reality TV star’ on charges of personal tax fraud. The defendant was acquitted.
  • R v WT (2012) – Instructed to represent a World Bank staff-member accused of channelling millions of pounds worth of corrupt payments from corporate bidders for World Health Projects to bank accounts in Switzerland.
  • R v HR (2012) – A series of trials of alleged tax frauds, involving a number of high-profile individuals in Premiership football.
  • R v AV (2012) – A £200m conspiracy to defraud prosecution brought by the Federation Against Copyright Theft, alleging the deliberate facilitation of access to copyright material across the internet.

See our Business Crime & Fraud team.

Education

  • MA Hons in Law, Queens’ College, Cambridge

Awards

  • Elected President of the Cambridge Union Society (Michaelmas, 1985)

Professional appointments

  • Standing Counsel to the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (2005 – 2010)
  • Standing Counsel to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2013 – 2017)
  • CPS Specialist Panel Advocate (Fraud)
  • CPS Specialist Panel Advocate (Organised Crime)
  • SFO Panel Advocate (List A)
  • Regulatory List ‘A’ for the Health & Safety Executive, Office of Rail Regulation and Environment Agency

Memberships

  • FLA
  • CBA
  • South Eastern Circuit

Publications

In October 2020, David launched the updating website crimecast.law which hosts video case reviews of recent case law and legislation. The website now has more than 200 videos, many of them in the field of Business Crime & Fraud. Daniel Cundy (Partner and Co-Head of Dispute Resolution at Blackfords LLP) says: “CrimeCast.Law has become the indispensable resource for specialists in Fraud, AML, Corruption and Regulatory Compliance”. His Honour Judge Lucas QC (Honorary Recorder of Haringey and Resident Judge at Wood Green Crown Court) says: “David Walbank QC’s expert oral explanation of points of principle in recent appeal decisions is an invaluable tool in keeping up to date with developments in criminal law”. For free and instant access to all David’s video case reviews, visit CrimeCast Law

David is also the crime columnist for the New Law Journal. His recent ‘Crime Brief’ articles include commentaries on:

Government of the United States of America v Assange [2022] 4 WLR 11 on the US Government’s attempts to extradite Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, for disclosing defence and national security material’, NLJ, 200th Anniversary double issue, 15 & 22 April 2022

Bloomberg LP v ZXC [2022] 3 All ER 1 on the leaking of the confidential contents of a Letter of Request sent by the UK authorities to US prosecutors’, NLJ, 27 May 2022)

R v Keal (Jonathan Robert) [2022] 2 Cr App R 4 on the M’Naghten rules and the English criminal courts’ approach to the concept of insanity’, NLJ, 15 July 2022

R (Lynch) v Westminster Magistrates’ Court [2022] 1 WLR 2065 on the long-running litigation arising from Hewlett Packard’s controversial $11 billion takeover Autonomy Corporation plc’, NLJ, 27 May 2022

David is also a prolific speaker on topical issues of interest to criminal practitioners and other professionals in the financial and wealth management sector. He has given keynote lectures at each of the following events:

The BNP Paribas Economic Crime Conference in Paris. He spoke to a live audience at the worldwide headquarters of the French international banking group and his lecture was simultaneously live-streamed to nearly 500 delegates in multiple jurisdictions, including the United States, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

He founded the Red Lion Lectures and, as well as hosting many of the events, his own talks have included a ‘Review of the Year in Business Crime’, ‘Safe Havens in the Perfect Storm?’ (on the extra-territorial criminal offences of corporate failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion under the Criminal Finances Act 2017) and ‘Still Draining the Swamp’ on the continuing efforts to combat money laundering in the London prime property market.

The annual conference of STEP Alpine (the Swiss and Liechtenstein Federation of the International Society of Trust and Estate Planners) in Interlaken, Switzerland. His fellow lecturers included Her Excellency Jane Owen (HM Ambassador to the Swiss Confederation), Count Francis von Seilern-Aspang (Chairman and Managing Director of the wealth preservation experts, Industrie-und Finanzkontor Ets.) and Her Serene Highness Princess Therese of Liechtenstein. Other speakers included leading academics from the University of Geneva and King’s College London as well as an array of private client specialists from across the globe and some of the top tax and trust lawyers from leading London firms.

David has twice in recent years been invited to deliver the keynote lecture on recent developments in Business Crime & Fraud to the Annual Government Legal Service Prosecutors’ Conference, speaking alongside the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office and the Solicitor General.

He has also lectured on the Fraud Act 2006 with Professor David Ormerod QC and on Legal Professional Privilege to the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad.

David has a particular expertise in complex disclosure issues. In Butterworths’ ‘Fraud: Law, Practice & Procedure’, he wrote the chapter on prosecution disclosure and in Gross LJ’s ‘Review of Disclosure In Criminal Proceedings’, the so-called ‘Walbank Protocol’ was described as a model for prosecution disclosure.