Former City lawyer jailed over £600k frauds

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By Thomas Connelly on

Joshua Brien previously worked for the Commonwealth Secretariat and US law firm Cooley

A high-flying City lawyer who defrauded two former employers out of over £600,000 has been jailed for seven and a half years.

Joshua Brien, 48, worked in the London headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat, an international club originally for ex-British colonies between 2010 and 2016, before joining US outfit Cooley as special counsel.

The lawyer — once dubbed a “rising star” in public international law in the Legal 500 rankings — was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of three counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of fraud. He was sentenced on Friday.

The court heard how Brien, an expert on the law of the sea, used his knowledge of the Commonwealth’s internal systems to receive fraudulent payments of nearly £150,000.

He fabricated correspondence using a fake email address that was very similar to one used by a genuine Commonwealth contractor, according to the Met Police. This correspondence enabled him to siphon off funds intended for the contractor into a bank account he had set up in Australia.

He was eventually dismissed for an unrelated offence.

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Brien then went on to secure a role at US outfit Cooley, lying on his CV as to the reasons for leaving the Commonwealth. While employed there he worked on an arbitration matter involving a marine salvage company and told the client to forward payments to his account.

Cooley only discovered that over £400,000 had been paid from the client to Brien when police arrested him for the earlier offence at the Commonwealth.

He also defrauded a second Cooley client, this time taking around £90,000, after alluding to be acting on behalf of the firm but instead channelling the money into his own accounts.

Detective constable Mark Bunning of the Met’s economic and specialist crime team said:

“Joshua Brien used his knowledge of the internal reporting systems of the companies who employed him to carry out significant fraud. He used the employ of his companies to operate in plain sight; carrying out protracted fraudulent activities for his own personal gain. However, due to the diligent and dedicated work of the police, Brien has been convicted and will now face to consequences of his actions.”

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