“If a lawyer defends a criminal, does that make him a criminal?”

Published: August 25, 2017 at 10:21am

This is Adrian Delia’s current line of defence, after first lying about not having an offshore bank account in Jersey and then being unable to get out of it because this website published documents which show, clearly, that he did indeed have a bank account in Jersey, in his personal name: ADRIAN DELIA.

Now suddenly, he’s gone from lying about the existence of that bank account to saying that it’s not his. But of course it’s his. It has his name on it. When your name is on a bank account, in the eyes of the law and the bank, you are the owner and holder of that account and 100% responsible for its contents and for what it is used for.

Even if you give a power of attorney to somebody else – to stretch a point, because lawyers do not give powers of attorney to their clients, but rather the other way round – you remain responsible. As a lawyer, he knows this. As a lawyer, he knows that it is he and he alone who will have had to answer to an investigating authority about the use, purpose and contents of that account.

But he also knows that people in general are confused about these things and know next to nothing about banks, companies, offshore transactions and white-collar crime in general, so he’s taking advantage of that and doing his best to manipulate their trust and hoodwink them.

This is a very bad sign in any kind of man – cheating and manipulating the trust of those who believe in you – let alone one who holds a professional warrant and who is now seeking to run the country as Prime Minister (the ultimate aim) – except that he will never get there because the Labour Party will burn him alive with all they know about him when he is Opposition leader.

Or they needn’t bother doing that at all, because the more likely scenario is that they will simply co-opt him to their cause and, hamstrung by all his baggage, he will play along as he has begun to do already on the matter of Egrant Inc and the criminal inquiries into the financial activities of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, about which not a word.

And, in answer to Dr Delia’s courtroom rhetoric – “If a lawyer defends a criminal, does that make him a criminal?” – the answer is an obvious No. But he knows, as I do, that if a lawyer sets up a bank account in an offshore jurisdiction and uses it to launder money, whether it is for his clients or for himself, that makes him a money-launderer.

Pretending not to know where the money came from is no excuse in the eyes of the law or of his fellow professionals in the law and financial services, though it might wash with his political fans on social media and with those who are all-round confused. Everybody in the field, and many of those outside it, knows about KYC requirements and what they are there for: Know Your Client. Every lawyer knows why he or she has to fill in a thousand forms and be subject to routine inspections by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit which checks whether they know clients’ sources of funds and fines them if they haven’t checked.

So quite frankly, every time he opens his mouth to lie about these matters and ramp up support among the political fans, Adrian Delia loses even more respect among his peers. And to be blunt about it, there is no way he couldn’t have known where that money was coming from, given the addresses and the people involved.