On 17 March 2016 Mr James Sutherland was acquitted of a single charge of money laundering by a jury at the Southwark Crown Court in London. The unanimous jury verdict came after barely three hours of deliberation following a nine-week trial. The case was brought by the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) a much-criticised law enforcement agency in the UK.
The following points should be noted:

  • The indictment related to payment processing and stock escrow services provided by four companies under the control of Zetland to two clients between 2003 and 2007. The clients were subsequently convicted of conspiracy to commit securities fraud in 2014. The SFO acknowledged that Mr Sutherland had no participation in or knowledge of the fraud.
  • Mr Sutherland was able to prove in court that Zetland’s anti-money laundering and “know your client” procedures were robust and in line with or in excess of the standards prevailing at the time. Furthermore it was demonstrated that Zetland always operated as a substantial and well-run business providing services to an international clientele.
  • The SFO failed to investigate the matter – merely serving up massive amounts of evidence used in the previous trial. At no time was any material taken from Zetland’s offices and no client confidentiality was breached.
  • The Hong Kong authorities despite being aware of the matter have never taken any action whatsoever.
  • Mr Sutherland intends to take further legal action against the SFO for malicious prosecution.

Mr Sutherland issued the following press release after the trial:
I am delighted that a jury has today acquitted me of money laundering after just three hours of deliberation following a nine-week trial. This was a charge I have always strongly denied, and I believe a case that should never have been brought, resulting from a flawed investigation by a discredited organisation.
Since being arrested in December 2013, I have been forced to spend millions of pounds defending my good name, which has been built up over a lifetime in business. Time I should have spent running a successful fiduciary company operating from Hong Kong has instead been spent on preparing a defence and proving my innocence in a London court.
The incompetence of the Serious Fraud Office was apparent from the outset of this investigation. The case against me was built on mud-slinging, smear and innuendo yet I was kept on bail for more than two years and forced to surrender my passport whilst in the UK and severely restrict my travel arrangements.
I then had to sit through a farcical and lengthy trial relating to events which took place in Hong Kong and attracted no interest from the authorities there, but which a UK government agency nevertheless decided was its business. Serious questions need to be asked about the decision to bring this case.
I now look forward to returning to Hong Kong where my focus will be on continuing to provide a first-class service to the clients of Zetland Fiduciary Group and introducing new clients to a trusted brand.

I would like to thank my legal team, particularly Mark Rainsford QC, Jason Sugarman QC, Rick Shearman and Ben Holden, in helping me decisively clear my name.
Press comment may also be found in the South China Morning Post and UK Sunday Telegraph.

2016年3月16日、ロンドンのサザーク国王裁判所は、マネーロンダリングの罪に問われていたジム・サザーランド氏に無罪の判決を言い渡しました。9週間にわたる公判のあと、たった3時間の審議を経て、満場一致にて無罪が言い渡たされました。今回の裁判は英国政府独立機関である、重大不正捜査局(Serious Fraud Office、通称SFO)によって起されたものです。

  1. 起訴内容: 2003年~2007年の間に行われたゼットランドのサービス内容で、ゼットランド社の管理下にある4つの会社より、当時顧客であった2件の顧客先に提供した送金サービスと株式預託サービス(エスクローサービス)について。この2件の(当時の)顧客は後に証券詐欺容疑で有罪判決を受けている。SFO はサザーランド氏が彼らの詐欺行為に加わっていないこと、そして彼らによって詐欺行為が行われていたことを知らなかった事実をこの裁判にて認めた。
  2. サザーランド氏は法廷にて、ゼットランド社のマネーロンダリング対策やKYC手続き(顧客審査手続き)が適切に行われており、それは当時の基準或いはそれ基準以上の厳しさであったことを証明した。
  3. SFOは前回の公判で使用した証拠の使い回しを行っただけで、この件に関する新たな証拠を提示することはできなかった。この件に関してゼットランド社より集めた情報はなく、ゼットランド社の顧客情報は渡っていない。
  4. 香港当局は、この件への認識があったが全くアクションはおこしていない。
  5. サザーランド氏は誣告(虚偽告訴)として、今後SFOに対して法的措置をとるつもりである。


※このプレスリリースは香港のサウスチャイナモーニングポスト誌(South China Morning Post)と英国のデイリーテレグラフ誌(UK Sunday Telegraph)にも記載されています。