Steve Cornmell is a managing director for the Disputes and Investigations practice. His practice is focused on providing fraud investigation and expert assistance in commercial disputes.

Based in London, Steve has over 20 years of experience in criminal fraud investigation having assisted the UK Serious Fraud Office, amongst others, on a wide range of enquiries involving fraudulent trading, theft, share ramping and conspiracy to defraud regulatory authorities. He has also acted for numerous corporate clients in investigations of alleged fraud and accounting irregularity and breakdown, and twice been appointed as an Inspector in respect of Companies Act and Financial Services Act (Insider Dealing) enquiries. He has also acted in the defence of individuals charged with serious fraud and money laundering offences.

Steve has acted as expert in a number of cases and has provided evidence in court in criminal and commercial cases, international arbitrations and disciplinary hearings brought by professional bodies. His cases have covered a broad range of business sectors.

Before joining Duff & Phelps, Steve was a partner and head of Grant Thornton’s UK Forensic and Investigation Services department.

Steve earned a bachelor's degree in politics from University of Leicester. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with a Lloyd’s panel audit firm.

Representative Engagements

Criminal and regulatory investigations

  • Acted as expert for the Serious Organised Crime Agency in its investigation of the laundering of the proceeds of the theft of US$15 million of unreconciled funds from a German bank

  • Led the UK Serious Fraud Office’s investigation into the collapse of a double glazing manufacturer.

  • Provided forensic accounting support to the Metropolitan Police Organised Crime Group in its investigation and prosecution of John "Goldfinger" Palmer for his involvement in a timeshare fraud.

  • Acted for the UK National Crime Squad in investigations involving the laundering of the proceeds of drugs trafficking by an international crime group.

  • Acted as an accounting expert for the UK Serious Fraud Office in relation to the prosecution of fraud and corruption offences perpetrated by employees and suppliers of an international retail entity.

  • Appointed an Inspector by the UK Department of Trade and Industry (as was) to investigate allegations of insider dealing and market manipulation in relation to the trading in shares of a vertically integrated travel company ahead of a number of market announcements.

  • Investigations under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on behalf of an energy company placing oil industry staff into Nigeria via a UK subsidiary.

  • Acted in the defence of a former fund manager of a Saudi bank in relation to allegations of insider trading brought by the Saudi financial services regulator.

  • Provided forensic accounting assistance in relation to the defence of an individual charged with fraud and money laundering offences arising from their work at the Millennium Dome.

  • Acted in the defence of an individual charged with laundering the proceeds of drugs trafficking. 

Asset tracing and civil recovery

  • Led the forensic accounting team investigating and tracing the alleged money laundering of funds looted from Nigeria by ex-President Abacha through retail banks in the UK.

  • Led the forensic accounting team investigating the collapse of the international metals trader, RBG Resources plc.

  • Identification of tracing claims to be made in respect of a financial advisor who had diverted loan finance provided by a financial institution for the personal benefit of the principals involved and their families.

  • Provided expert evidence for the UK Assets Recovery Agency to support a civil claim for the recovery of the proceeds of crime.

  • Identification of undisclosed property assets by a husband based off-shore in a matrimonial dispute.

Civil fraud and financial investigation

  • Acted for the Government of Greece as part of a multi-disciplinary and international team in its attempts to recover losses suffered as a result of bribery and corrupt practices undertaken by an international corporate entity over a significant period of time in relation to, amongst others, state owned telecommunications and transportation businesses.

  • Led the investigations on behalf of the Administrators of the BHS Group into the circumstances surrounding its insolvency and potential actions for the recovery of losses suffered by the creditors.

  • Conducted a financial review of an African oil refinery to support investment decisions to be made by the national government and various international funding agencies.

  • Provided forensic accounting assistance to a London market listed healthcare company in relation to the discovery of a "black hole" in its accounts, leading to a restatement of published financial information.

  • Provided an independent assessment of losses suffered by a franchise operator due to the termination of a rail franshise to assist in the settlement of a claim between the UK Department for Transport and a global transportation company.

  • Provided forensic accounting expertise on behalf of a Croatian individual in his attempts to overturn a judgement made against him in the London High Court concerning his involvement in a Czech banking fraud.

  • Provided evidence in person at the disciplinary hearings of the Finance Director of an NHS Hospital Trust in relation to the alleged manipulation of the value of land and property sales in order to cover a budget deficit.

  • Review of the operations of an asset repossession unit of an Irish bank in relation to allegations of theft of assets, sales of motor vehicles at an undervalue, and collusion with organised criminals.

  • Investigations arising from the administration of an insurance warranty business following its disposal by a global motor manufacturer, particularly in relation to the operation of bank accounts in the name of the company’s Directors and third party organisations.

  • Assisted a Danish automotive parts manufacturer in quantifying and recovering its losses from insurers in Scandinavia and the Far East following a fire at its manufacturing premises in China.

Expert witness testimony

  • Provided expert evidence of quantum in person on behalf of the defendant in an ICC arbitration relating to losses of US$350 million claimed for concessions granted for the commissioning of a steel mill and related gas processing and energy projects in Nigeria

  • Provided expert testimony in the UK Commercial Court in relation to a dispute regarding a banking facility provided to finance the purchase of cotton from Uzbekistan by a UK trading company.

  • Provided expert testimony on behalf of the defendant in an UNCITRAL international arbitration of a dispute between a Far Eastern investing company and a Caribbean government in relation to a failed resort development.

  • Provided expert testimony at an international arbitration concerning the quantification of losses suffered by a LNG producer as a result of a Government ordered embargo.

  • Provided expert evidence in person in an international arbitration concerning losses claimed by a Saudi conglomerate for failure to obtain contracts for the supply of educational material in the Gulf States.

  • Provided expert testimony in an UNCITRAL arbitration dispute between a Pakistan manufacturing company and a US wholesaler regarding losses suffered as a result of defective products.

  • Provided an expert report in a dispute concerning potential payments at a preference made by a Middle Eastern conglomerate shortly before its insolvency.

  • Provided expert advice in the form of a formal report in relation to the basis of a fine to be levied by one of the UK’s competition authorities, the Office of Fair Trading, for cartel practices in the recruitment industry.

  • Provided an expert opinion as to whether payments made by a UK listed oil and gas exploration company were made in the ordinary course of business and, as a result, did not require disclosure to the market in accordance with the listing rules.

  • Acted as an expert for a Cyprus based bank in an international arbitration dispute concerning “repo” transactions with a Malaysian bank and whether these constituted money laundering.

Professional negligence

  • Led the forensic accounting team supporting the audit expert for Deloitte Singapore in both professional disciplinary hearings and the London High Court in its defence of allegations of audit negligence following the collapse of Barings Bank and its failure to identify the activities of Nick Leeson.

  • With the Executive Counsel of the UK professional discipline body, led an investigation of the conduct of members and member firms in relation to the audits of a casino. Provided evidence in person in the subsequent professional disciplinary tribunal brought against the former audit partner and his personal accountant regarding the theft of an asset of the audit client.

  • Leading the investigation by the UK professional discipline body in relation to the audits of a failed integrated travel company.

  • Investigation on behalf of insurers into a claim made under a professional indemnity policy by the Cyprus member firm of an international accounting affiliation.

  • Acting for the Financial Reporting Council discipline team in its investigation of the conduct of members and member firms under both the accounting and actuarial discipline schemes in relation to audit and actuarial services provided to a Lloyd's insurance syndicate.

  • Assisted the defence of a former solicitor charged with fraud and money laundering offences relating to the provision of offshore companies for overseas investors.

  • Investigation on behalf of the liquidator of a gas bottling business of the conduct of the audits carried out by a regional accounting firm to support a civil claim against that firm.

  • Acted in the defence of a head mistress in relation to a disciplinary investigation of allegations regarding the financial management of a school. 

Certifications

  • Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Education

  • Bachelor's degree in Politics, University of Leicester

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