Top criminal chambers forced to rebrand as old premises become luxury apartments

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By Thomas Connelly on

9-12 Bell Yard now Foundry Chambers

A leading criminal set based in the heart of legal London has been forced to relocate and undergo a rebrand after its building was snapped up by developers.

As of today, 9-12 Bell Yard Chambers will be called Foundry Chambers. For the past 23 years the set has taken its name from its Bell Yard address, but has now upped sticks since the freehold of the original building was sold.

In 2015, Legal Cheek revealed that the 9-12 Bell Yard property — situated just a stone’s throw from the Law Society — had been the subject of a planning application to change the use of the existing building from an office to nine residential units. According to the application summary (which is still live on Westminster City Council’s website) the redevelopment has since been “permitted”.

Part of the original plans submitted by developers

Fast forward a year and the property hit headlines again, this time in connection with a Brazilian money launderer.

Leaked documents revealed that an offshore company which coughed up a whopping £6,225,000 to purchase 9-12 Bell Yard’s freehold from Scottish Widows in 2015 had been established by Expedito Machado. Machado has admitted laundering millions of dollars in bribes on behalf of his father, former Brazilian senator Sérgio Machado.

Because of laws allowing landlords to own property via shell companies (non-trading companies used as vehicles for various financial manoeuvres) without having to reveal their identities, barristers at 9-12 Bell Yard Chambers were not aware who they were renting their building from.

Foundry Chambers, which will continue to be headed up by Mukul Chawla QC, will now be based at Quality House. The building is described by a Google reviewer as a “great oasis of offices with a great vibe and atmosphere”, and is just five minutes walk away from 9-12 Bell Yard.

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