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LONDON -- Judges in London's Court of Appeal are criticizing the U.K. government for failing to implement legislation that would help courts tackle international fraud.
A panel of three Appeal Court judges overturned three of 11 fraud convictions against a marine insurance broker, claiming that they were forced to so because the government had not yet implemented Part 1 of the 1993 Criminal Justice Act.
Failure to introduce that section of the legislation, which is designed to help authorities prosecute cases of fraud that straddle international boundaries, "seriously undermines the role that the courts of England and Wales should be playing in the battle against international fraud," Lord Justice Buxton wrote for the court.
A spokesman from the Assn. of British Insurers also expressed disappointment that the legislation had not been implemented and pointed out that fraud costs the insurance industry huge sums of money.
Despite their complaint, the panel of judges upheld the remaining eight convictions against John Manning and did not reduce the 30-month jail sentence he is now serving for false accounting and forgery.
Prosecutors claimed that Mr. Manning, who ran his own maritime insurance brokerage business from his home in Essex, failed to place insurance premiums for shipowners, obtained coverage for a lower value and arranged coverage with unacceptable insurers.
Mr. Manning's lawyers claimed that the court did not have jurisdiction to try charges relating to the procurement of checks because they were signed by a client in Athens, Greece.
Lord Justice Brown agreed with the defendant, noting that while procurement of the checks began with a dishonest scheme conducted in the United Kingdom, the fraud was not actually completed until the client signed the check in Greece and that established law meant that the English courts had no jurisdiction to try these charges.
The judge described the state of the law as "deplorable" and pointed out that if Part 1 of the 5-year-old criminal act had been implemented it would have given the judges jurisdiction.
A spokesman from the government Home Office, which oversees criminal law enforcement, said that the "present government was looking at ways of implementing Part 1 of the legislation" but acknowledged that there was "no timetable yet" for its implementation.