SFO drops laundering charges

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has withdrawn charges against a client of Robert Rhodes QC who was accused of conspiring to launder millions of pounds. The unique case may result in an action against the Government.
Elzbieta Koberstein was extradited from Germany last September having already spent six months in custody. She was subsequently forced to turn down two bail offers of £100,000 and £10,000 as she could not afford them, before being granted bail without financial conditions.
Koberstein was due to appear with other defendants in a trial later this year, but the SFO withdrew the case following the presentation of new evidence by Rhodes, who is a tenant at 35 Essex Street.
Rhodes, instructed by Manchester firm Betesh Fox, said: “I’m not aware that a defendant [awaiting an SFO prosecution] has ever been extradited and then had charges against them dropped at such an early stage.”
The case against her was to form part of a wider trial due to start in September and which is subject to a reporting ban. The defendants’ costs are to be paid out of a fund containing public money. Civil action against the Government is being considered for the way the case was handled.