Kabir Sondhi

Introduction

Kabir has built a strong practice prosecuting and defending across a full range of criminal offences, with a growing specialism in fraud, white-collar, and other financial / business crime work. He is regularly instructed in cases (both alone and as a led junior) alleging serious and complex offending.

As well as being an experienced trial advocate, Kabir is instructed to advise individuals, corporates, and prosecutorial bodies in relation to investigations into offences such as complex fraud, money laundering, and bribery & corruption. He also undertakes work in relation to asset seizure and recovery, including Restraint Order and Confiscation Order proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Kabir is on the SFO Prosecution Advocates B Panel, the CPS General Crime Panel (Level 3), the CPS Specialist Fraud Panel (Level 3), and the CPS Serious Crime Panel (Level 2). He is qualified to accept instructions directly from clients through the Bar Council’s Public Access Scheme and is also authorised to conduct litigation.

Background and expertise

General Crime

Kabir prosecutes and defends in a diverse range of criminal matters, including those involving allegations of serious and organised offending, complicated legal and factual issues, and sensitive subject matter. Highlights include:

  • Defending in cases of murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and blackmail involving gangs and “county lines” offending.
  • Prosecuting terror suspects in cases involving consideration of PII and other sensitive material.
  • Defending in large-scale drugs importation cases involving large amounts of communications evidence.
  • Prosecuting protest cases involving novel law and detailed submissions on defendants’ rights under Articles 10 and 11 ECHR.
  • Prosecuting and defending in cases involving vulnerable witnesses and defendants, including trials for sexual offences.
  • Advising defendants on issues surrounding entrapment in drugs and child sex cases.
  • Defending in cases involving high-value money laundering and handling stolen goods.

White Collar, Corporate, Fraud, and Financial Crime

Kabir has particular experience in the investigation, prosecution, and defence of complex and paper-heavy cases involving allegations of fraud and other white-collar offences (most significantly bribery & corruption) involving both corporates and individuals. His experience includes the provision of advice during investigations and in pre-charge stages. Highlights include:

  • Acting for the Serious Fraud Office in a large-scale, multi-jurisdictional investigation /prosecution of a major British company for bribery & corruption and associated offences, culminating in a Deferred Prosecution Agreement.
  • Advising foreign lawyers with regard to potential criminal liability of their client in England & Wales for cross-frontier offending arising from international business dealings.
  • Prosecuting in a multi-handed case involving conspiracies to commit fraud and associated conspiracies to launder the proceeds, committed by an Organised Crime Group.
  • Defending in multi-handed cases of complex fraud, cheating the revenue, fraudulent trading, and associated money laundering, prosecuted variously by the Crown Prosecution Service, Trading Standards, and HMRC.
  • Advising suspects at pre-trial stage in relation to investigations for fraud and other offences, including advice on Restraint Orders, Production Orders, and RIPA notices.
  • Prosecuting and defending high-value Confiscation Order proceedings (and reconsideration of previous orders) involving nuanced issues relating to the calculation of benefit and the realisation of assets.
  • Multiple years’ experience working with SFO case teams on large-scale investigations into complex, multi-jurisdictional fraud, and bribery & corruption offences.

Civil and Judicial Review

In addition to criminal work, Kabir has experience in discrete areas of civil law and judicial review, including applications for injunction before the High Court and actions for breach of privacy / misuse of confidential information.

Other

Prior to practice, Kabir worked in the judicial division of the International Criminal Court as intern to Lord Justice Fulford, during which he assisted in the preparation of the final judgment in the case of Prosecutor v. Lubanga (the first ever completed trial at the ICC). He maintains an interest in international criminal law. As a first six pupil, Kabir assisted the prosecution in the case of R v. Dobson and Norris (the murder of Stephen Lawrence) and as a third six pupil he was part of the defence team in R v. Adebolajo and Adebowale (the murder of Lee Rigby outside Woolwich Barracks).

Notable cases

Financial/White Collar/Business Crime

R v. X (ongoing)

Led junior for the defence in a multi-handed case involving an alleged conspiracy to launder over £30m, said to be the proceeds of crime. (Kingston Crown Court)

Serious Fraud Office v. Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited (2018 – 2021)

Junior counsel (led by two QCs) instructed by the SFO in the investigation / prosecution of bribery & corruption offences relating to the use of corrupt agents in the oil and gas sector. The offences spanned from 1996 to 2014 and occurred across several jurisdictions (Brazil, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia). The case culminated in a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with the financial penalty and costs amounting to £103m in the UK (which formed part of a $177m global settlement with the UK, US, and Brazilian authorities). (Southwark Crown Court)

R v. DC and Others (2021)

Led junior for the prosecution in a seven-handed case involving conspiracies to commit fraud on bookmakers (valued around £1.6m) and associated conspiracies to launder the proceeds, carried out by an Organised Criminal Group (OCG). (Wood Green Crown Court)

R v. AS (2019)

Junior alone for the defence in a multi-handed trial (prosecuted by QC and junior), involving an industrial scale conspiracy to commit fraud, fraudulent trading, and associated money laundering offences relating to the mis-selling of energy contracts and refunds. The case had 10,000+ pages of evidence and the defendant was acquitted after a successful submission of no case to answer at the close of the prosecution’s case after 11 weeks of evidence. (Nottingham Crown Court)

R v. JA (2018)

Led junior for the defence in one of a series of trials for conspiracy to commit fraud relating to a large-scale, complex, and organised “cash for crash” insurance scam. The conspiracy was alleged to have involved 19 defendants and been worth several million pounds over several years. The trial involved 18,000+ pages of evidence, multiple cutthroat defences, and the cross-examination of several professional prosecution witnesses (including solicitors and doctors) implicating them in the conspiracy. One of only 2 out of 19 defendants to be found not guilty. (St Albans Crown Court)

R v. MD (2016)

Led junior for the defence in a trial for cheating the revenue and associated money laundering offences relating to a multi-handed £5m+ Gift Aid fraud, prosecuted by HMRC. The case involved 24,000+ pages of evidence, much of which emanated from foreign jurisdictions in response to international letters of request. The case was complicated by the fact that the defence was advancing a cutthroat defence against her own father and brother, who were the co-defendants. The only defendant to be found not guilty of all charges at trial. (Southwark Crown Court)

Investigations

Operation V. (2019 to present)

Disclosure counsel on an SFO case team investigating offences of fraud, money laundering, and other potential offences committed by the directors of a UK based investments company operating in the UK and Central America.

Operation P. (2016 – 2020)

Evidence review counsel (and later deputy disclosure officer) for the SFO case team in the investigation / prosecution of the Unaoil and SBM bribery case, in which the defendants were alleged to have conspired to pay bribes in order to win lucrative contracts in the oil and gas industries in post-war Iraq.

Homicide/Serious Violence

R v. X (ongoing)

Junior (led by QC) representing a defendant charged with kidnap, false imprisonment, and blackmail offences relating to the alleged abduction, torture, and ransom of two individuals by an alleged criminal gang operating between Wales and the Southeast of England. (Cardiff Crown Court)

R v. DD (2018)

Led junior for the defence in a trial for armed robbery. The defendant was charged with the armed robbery of the co-defendant, who was himself charged on the indictment with murder of the defendant’s friend, arising out of a “drug robbery gone wrong”. Significant issues arose with regard to severance, hearsay, and bad character evidence. (St Albans Crown Court)

R v. RCM (2018)

Junior (led by QC) for a defendant in a multi-handed joint enterprise murder and wounding trial involving rival groups of drugs dealers running “county lines”, in which complicated issues of bad character arose surrounding gang culture and “drill” music. (Reading Crown Court)

R v. JZ (2017)

Junior (led by QC) representing the first defendant in a multi-handed joint enterprise murder involving cutthroat defences by all defendants. The case included the cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses / co-defendants who had allegedly been subject of “cuckooing” by drug dealers. (St Albans Crown Court)

R v. MA (2014 - as 3rd 6)

Assisted QC and junior counsel representing the second defendant in the trial for the murder of soldier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich Barracks. (Central Criminal Court)

R v. BW (2012)

Prosecution junior in a trial for murder. The defendant was eventually convicted of manslaughter after punching the victim to the floor outside a kebab shop, causing major brain injuries. (Inner London Crown Court)

Serious and Organised Crime

R v. X (ongoing)

Defending in a case involving alleged conspiracies to import over 100kg of cocaine into the UK from Europe and the Caribbean. The case involves extensive Encrochat and other communications evidence. (Winchester Crown Court)

R v. SD (2020)

Led junior for the defence in a multi-handed trial for conspiracy to handle stolen goods and various money laundering offences relating to high value watches and other luxury items worth over £2m. (Southwark Crown Court)

Confiscation/Restraint/Asset Recovery

Re: JM (ongoing)

Advised / represented a suspect in Restraint Order proceedings as part of an HMRC investigation into fraudulent evasion of VAT, fraud, and money laundering offences, relating to claims for VAT repayments of approximately £3m. Restrained items included high-value race cars. (Westminster Magistrates Court / Southwark Crown Court)

R v. IS (2016 to 2019)

Represented the manager of a car sales business charged (alongside the company) with offences of fraud and breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations, in relation to the alleged “clocking” of imported cars. The alleged fraud was said to have been worth £127,000. Negotiated a plea agreement to a lesser offence of failure of professional due diligence and successfully argued against the imposition of a Confiscation Order after a protracted period of litigation. (Snaresbrook Crown Court)

R v. AG-R (2015 to 2018)

Represented a former treasurer of an historic London club at sentence and in subsequent protracted confiscation (and enforcement) proceedings after he had pleaded guilty to the theft of more than £500,000 from his employers. The case had several difficult features, including arguments over the valuation and realisation of a pension fund for the purposes of making a confiscation order. (Southwark Crown Court and Westminster Magistrates’ Court)

Special Casework/Protest Cases

Operation B. (2015/16)

Instructed by the CPS Special Case Unit to prosecute a series of single and multi-handed trials for offences arising out of the “Occupy Parliament” protests in London. Several of the cases involved detailed legal arguments regarding a defendant’s rights to protest, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly under the ECHR. One of the trials involved the first litigated criminal case under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. (Westminster Magistrates’ Court and Woolwich Crown Court)

R v. X (2015)

Instructed by the CPS Special Case Unit to prosecute the defendant – a known terror suspect – for offences relating to a road traffic collision. The case involved working closely with officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terror Unit and overseeing a sensitive disclosure exercise including surveillance material. During the course of the trial, the defendant was further arrested for terror-related offences, of which he was later convicted at the Central Criminal Court. (Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court)

R v. X (2014)

Instructed by the CPS Special Case Unit to prosecute a terror suspect for offences relating to an anti-Islam protest by a right-wing group and subsequent retaliation by people associated with a high-profile extremist Islamist preacher. (Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court and Blackfriars Crown Court)

Sexual Offences

R v. X (2019)

Represented a defendant (a convicted rapist subject to section 38 / 41 hospital orders) at a trial for breaches of a highly restrictive Sexual Harm Prevention Order. The defendant suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was a diagnosed psychopath. The complainant was herself vulnerable due to mental health problems. Both required intermediaries. (Woolwich Crown Court)

R v. X (2017)

Represented a defendant at plea and sentence for arranging the rape of a child under 13 years old with an undercover police officer. Also involved the provision of written pre-plea advice with regard to the issue of entrapment. (Kingston Crown Court)

R v. X (2015)

Instructed to defend a youth at trial in the Crown Court charged with inciting an 11 year old girl to engage in sexual activity / pornography. The defendant, by the age of 16, already had previous convictions for rape and sexual assault of other children aged under 13. A plea deal was agreed, and the defendant was eventually sentenced to a Youth Rehabilitation Order. (Oxford Crown Court)

• R v. X (2012 – during second six)

Prosecution junior in a severed trial (part of Operation C.) for child sex offences arising out of the Telford child sexual exploitation scandal. (Wolverhampton Crown Court)

Civil

EJF v. MC (2013)

Application to the High Court for an injunction on behalf of a claimant bringing an action for breach of privacy, misuse of confidential information, and civil harassment by way of publications over the internet from a foreign jurisdiction. (High Court)

Other Activities and Interests

Kabir is a keen (albeit not particularly accomplished) guitar player, singer, and general music fan. His musical tastes range from opera to punk, and he is a massive fan of The Smiths.

Publications

  • Contributor to Cyber Crime, Law and Practice; Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2014 (ISBN 9780854901364).
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PROFILE: Kabir Sondhi

Year called

2010

Specialisms

Crime

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Financial Crime

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Investigations

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International

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Road traffic

Financial and Corporate law

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Financial Crime

Road Traffic

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Road traffic

Direct access

Yes - Authorised to conduct litigation

Contact

020 7489 2727

Education

BVC – BPP Holborn (2010)

GDL – City University (2009)

MA Philosophy – Birkbeck College, London (2008)

BA (Hons.) Philosophy – King’s College, London (2007)

Memberships

The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn

South Eastern Circuit

The Fraud Lawyers Association

Appointments

SFO prosecution counsel – B panel

CPS general crime counsel – Level 3

CPS specialist fraud counsel – Level 3

CPS serious crime counsel – Level 2

Registered pupil supervisor

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