The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged three men with multiple offences in connection with the 2012 collapse of the Axiom Legal Financing fund, with the trio accused of carrying out a fraudulent scheme to divert money from the vehicle for their own benefit.
Launched in 2009, the Cayman-domiciled Axiom fund promised investors returns of 11% a year, and was promoted as "an uncorrelated, open-ended investment that provides short-term finance to UK law firms" who work on a no-win, no-fee basis on cases with a high chance of success.
The fund was suspended in 2012 when it was unable to meet significant redemption requests from investors after a series of allegations emerged about founder and solicitor Tim Schools and his management of the fund.
The Cayman-domiciled Axiom fund promised investors returns of 11% a year, and was promoted as "an uncorrelated, open-ended investment that provides short-term finance to UK law firms."
Schools is now charged with three counts of fraudulent trading under the Companies Act of 2006, one count of fraud under the Fraud Act of 2006, and one count of transferring criminal property, contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
A report from Axiom fund's receiver, Grant Thornton, revealed at the time that about 60% of the fund's assets were lent to just two "panel law firms" - Ashton Fox and Tandem, both of which are now in insolvency proceedings and owe the fund tens of millions of pounds.
Ashton Fox was the rebranded product of the purchase of School's own law firm ATM Solicitors by lawyers Emmetts in 2011.
Schools stayed on at the enlarged firm as director.
The investigation, which officially begun in 2017, has also led to former IFA David Kennedy charged with one count of fraudulent trading, contrary to the Companies Act of 2006.
In addition, another solicitor, Richard Emmett is charged with one count of fraudulent trading, one count of "being concerned in an arrangement which facilitates the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property by another".
The case will be listed at Westminster Magistrates Court on 30 September.