Project Description


Mark Rainsford QC

Mark Rainsford QC

Chairman and Head of Litigation

Called to the Bar of England & Wales (1985) (QC 2006), British Virgin Islands (2012), Grand Cayman (2007, pro hac) and the Turks and Caicos Islands (2011, pro hac)
Associate member American Bar Association

Mark Rainsford QC is a rare silk specialising in fraud, whether criminal, civil or commercial. He specialises in corporate wrongdoing, internal company investigations, financial crime, proceeds of crime and international asset recovery. He is authorised by the BSB to conduct litigation.

He provides clear, focused, unequivocal and strategic advice and has real gravitas in court. His criminal practice focuses on defending corporates and individuals in a broad range of serious and complex cases.

He acts for private clients but also accepts some legal aid work. He has a wealth of experience in criminal and civil cases concerning financial crime, bribery and corruption, proceeds of crime, corporate blackmail, and international asset recovery.

Mark is recommended in Chambers and Partners 2018 for Financial Crime and for POCA work. He is “A very easy leader to deal with. He thinks outside the box and is very client-friendly and very straightforward.” “He’s fantastic to work with.” “A highly meticulous performer” who “presents reasoned and persuasive arguments of the greatest clarity.” and in Legal 500 which states: ‘He defends in complex money laundering and boiler room cases.’ ‘Instructed for the defence in challenging confiscation proceedings.’

In previous editions, he is praised for having superb legal knowledge and great judgement in how best to advance the client’s cause” and for being a very good, strategic and tactical thinker who is great with clients.” “He’s easy to deal with and gets right to heart of a problem.” Mark is “very experienced in civil fraud, meaning he brings an extra dimension to his cases”. Previous editions have praised Mark’s extensive expertise in the field of POCA and Asset Forfeiture work:- ‘‘he’s extremely knowledgeable and very resourceful. Ten barristers may say ‘no, can’t do it’, but he finds a way’’. He also has a “stellar reputation for acting in money laundering claims” and “offers excellent advocacy, first-class advice and superior preparation”. The Legal 500 2016 edition states that Mark is “A welcoming source of first-rate legal advice”

Mark prosecutes and defends cases concerning money laundering, carbon credit carousel fraud, MTIC and diversion fraud, investor frauds, rare earth metal fraud, cyber hacking, insider trading, market abuse, and “Ponzi” schemes.

He provides specialist strategic advice to organisations and individuals facing investigation by regulators, including the FSA, SFO, Competition Commission, Department of Justice and other overseas law enforcement authorities.

By engaging Mark at the earliest stages, corporates and individuals often benefit by being able to avoid prosecution altogether. Mark advises companies with regard to compliance issues.

His civil and commercial practice centres on fraud litigation with underlying allegations of dishonesty or criminal conduct. Mark combines his knowledge of criminal law, in particular proceeds of crime and anti-corruption laws, with vast experience of prosecuting and defending complex fraud trials, to develop and deploy strategies, often to devastating effect on his opponents’ case.

Mark was nominated by his peers as one of the world’s foremost business lawyers in International Who’s Who Legal 2013.  

In 2013, he was appointed as one of a small number of specialist proceeds of crime QCs approved by the SFO to undertake their work.  At the same time, he was appointed to the SFO list of prosecuting QCs.

Mark Rainsford QC is also a member of Chambers at 33 Chancery Lane.

Recent Notable Cases

  • Successfully defended Hong Kong businessman James Sutherland, chairman of a large group of fiduciary companies, securing his acquittal as the main defendant in a criminal trial on money laundering charges concerning $120m proceeds of a boiler room fraud
  • Advisory role in connection with Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) v. Societe Generale, a $2.1 billion claim in relation to a series of disputed trades, including derivatives, entered into between late 2007 and 2009, before Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was ousted.
  • Representing the former CEO of a foreign exchange company, providing pre-charge advice in relation to an ongoing investigation concerning suspected large scale investor fraud.
  • Pre-charge advice to the directors of an MSB under investigation in relation to suspected money laundering offences
2012 -2015
  • Advising the former managing director of a group of MSBs in relation to an allegation of the laundering of £700m
  • Advising an investment bank in relation to and internal investigation regarding financing the acquisition of overseas mineral extraction rights
  • Successfully defending and securing the acquittal of John Robert Manning, former senior partner of a large commercial law firm, on trial for major corruption charges
  • Advising a claimant in relation to a £50m civil fraud claim arising from alleged LIBOR rigging by a bank.
  •  Advising the CEO of a hedge fund in relation conflicts of interest and the fiduciary duties of company directors
  • Representing a major business advisory and accounting firm in respect of the wholesale illegal acquisition of confidential information ultimately sourced from public officials in multiple jurisdictions; advising on the internal investigation, self -reporting and negotiating with the SFO.
  • Representing the Ministry of Environment of a European sovereign state when their stock exchange was compromised by cyber-hackers; shares were switched to the London Stock Exchange and spot trading commenced; obtaining emergency freezing injunctions and Norwich Pharmacal orders.
  • Defending a London Finance House in civil fraud proceedings concerning a £10m cash advance fee in connection with a $105m loan.
  •  Advising a former Northern property tycoon and one- time championship league football club director in relation to Insolvency Act offences.
  • Advising the Board of a Global multi-national group of companies in relation to suspected payments to foreign military officials. Heading the internal investigation and advising on criminal liability and whether to self-report.
  • Defending a City of London law firm and several partners in civil fraud proceedings and also a proposed private prosecution following the alleged theft of many millions of pounds from a client account of funds destined for the acquisition of a US listed company. Providing strategic advice resulting in extinguishing the claim.
  • Representing the Lithuanian state in obtaining external restraint orders over the property of a well-known Russian oligarch.
  • In December 2011: Mark obtained management receivership and restraint orders over the assets of a group of companies with an annual turnover of £140m. This followed a criminal investigation into the activities of two of the shareholders.
  • Between January 2011-December 2011: Mark headed an internal investigation on behalf of a property developer into alleged corruption of the Prime Minister, Deputy Minister and Minster for Planning of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Mark negotiated the first civil recovery order and immunity from prosecution agreement following a Commission of Inquiry and political corruption investigation.
  • January 2011: Mark defended a director of a substantial company, facing charges which alleged that through the company’s trading with European suppliers millions of pounds in excise duty and VAT had been evaded. The case involved complex and detailed arguments concerning abuse of the process of the court.
  • 2010
  • R – v – Rastogi.  Leading counsel for the former Chairman and CEO of RBG Metals plc. in £1.2 billion hidden assets confiscation proceedings. This related to a multi- billion pound fraud on lending institutions in Europe and the USA and resulted in an order for the defendant to pay £20m.
  • Defended in a substantial diversion fraud. The case was dropped following submissions relating to abuse of process in the context disclosure failings.
  • Recovered £5m from a serious acquisitive criminal following his conviction for money laundering offences and obtained the first Financial Reporting Order applied for by the Metropolitan Police.
  • Successfully defended an International law firm in connection with illegal facilitation payments and
  • R – v – Simons. Leading Kennedy Talbot in hidden assets confiscation proceedings following the conviction of the defendant in two missing trader vat frauds with a combined revenue loss of £50 million.
  • Successfully defended an international corporate law firm following a dawn raid on their premises upon an allegation that they made facilitation payments to overseas foreign officials in order to speed up routine visa applications made on behalf a global accounting firm. Leading the internal investigation and preparing and presenting a successful rebuttal.
  • Advising the former non-executive chairman of an AIM listed company following unproven allegations of breach of fiduciary relationship.
  • R –v – A. Recovering £5 million of assets from the head of a serious and acquisitive criminal gang in confiscation proceedings, working with the Specialist Crime Directorate at New Scotland Yard. The case concerned extortion, blackmail, drugs trafficking, carousel fraud, money laundering and many other crimes
  • Leading two junior counsel prosecuting a £55.5 million missing trader intra-community carousel fraud.
  • Successfully defended the principal defendant in two separate trials in Grand Cayman.
  • Leading counsel for the appellant tried in the first MITIC Vat fraud. Successfully argued that following a trial lasting six months, the judge had invited unjustifiable adverse inferences from the evidence to be drawn against the defendant.
  • Instructed for the Respondents in an appeal following conviction for a £20 million diversion fraud case. Alleged revenue loss in region £200 million.
  • Prosecuted the first agricultural flat rate addition fraud.
  • Retained by the Attorney- General in an overview role concerning London City Bond.  This followed the discovery of serious disclosure failures in fraud cases.  Reviewing the safety of convictions in 44 major fraud cases.
  • Successfully defending an arms dealer in relation to the importation into Heathrow Airport of military grade machine guns
  • Advising a global multinational company in the luxury goods sector in relation to serious breaches of AML compliance.
  • Defending the chairman of a marketing and advertising agency in the Abbey National Bank nine -month corruption trial at the Central Criminal Court. The issues included commercial public interest immunity and breach of fiduciary relationship by a director.