Mark Scott backflips on evidence review process, DOJ not happy
With just five weeks to go till his OneCoin criminal trial, Mark Scott has backflipped on the review process he’s been fighting against for months.
The DOJ has labelled Scott’s backflip an obstruction. And indeed the actions of Scott and his attorneys will now likely lead to a delay in his trial.
Over November and December 2018 the DOJ provided Scott’s defense team with evidence seized from his residences.
Around a hundred thousand of those documents were deemed non-privileged by an independently appointed Filter Team.
Standard procedure dictated those documents should have then been made immediately available to the DOJ.
In February 2019 Mark Scott’s defense team raised a stink about being able to screen the documents first.
Despite being under no obligation to consent, the DOJ agreed to Scott’s demand.
Scott’s defense team was provided with 25,000 documents on May 6th. The DOJ set a May 14th deadline for Scott’s team to complete their review.
That deadline came and went without a response from Scott’s defense team. Out of an abundance of caution, the DOJ extended the deadline to May 21st.
Scott’s legal team eventually made contact on June 25th, only to request another deadline extension to July 1st.
In the meantime, the Filter Team contacted Scott’s defense team to request a hard drive, on which they could provide the second batch of non-privileged documents.
On July 1st, the thrice extended deadline to review the initial batch of documents, Scott’s legal team wrote a letter to the DOJ challenging the entire privilege review process.
The same arguments were filed in court on July 10th.
Following a hearing on the matter held on July 16th, the DOJ and Scott’s defense team reached an agreement on the privilege review process.
Despite that agreement however, it would be another month before Scott’s defense team agreed to the release of the first batch of 25,000 documents.
The DOJ finally began to receive the first batch of documents on August 15th, three and a half months after the initial deadline.
To date there are still documents that have not been released, owing to delays attributable to Scott’s defense team.
Part of that is a dispute over crime-fraud exception.
Crime-fraud exception removes attorney-client privilege if it was made with the intention of committing or covering up a crime or fraud.
Within the context of Mark Scott, an attorney, allegedly assisting OneCoin in laundering $400 million in Ponzi proceeds, why the DOJ brought it up should be obvious.
The DOJ’s crime-fraud exception motion was filed on June 4th. Scott’s defense team responded in opposition on June 28th.
Those objections were overruled and the court granted the DOJ’s motion on July 23rd.
As part of the initial privilege review process, Scott’s defense team was supposed to have been reviewing the crime-fraud exception documents.
On August 27th Scott’s defense team abruptly informed the DOJ that they agreed to release “all relevant documents” without review.
After months of obstructing the Prosecution Team’s ability to review lawfully-obtained evidence, and insisting on having the opportunity to review any documents before they are released to the Prosecution Team, defense counsel informed the Government for the first time yesterday afternoon they no longer wish to be directly involved in the crime-fraud or privilege review process.
As above, the DOJ is not happy about what they perceive as Scott’s stalling.
The decision, which was made without notice, will now see 70,000 documents released to the DOJ.
Evidence that should have been made available to them months ago.
According to the DOJ, Scott’s backflip happened on the same day the DOJ insisted a commitment to specific release dates.
Defense counsel has insisted for months that they be given the chance to “manually review” every document before the Filter Team releases the documents to the Prosecution Team.
This has caused months of delay and litigation.
Now, with less than six weeks before trial, defense counsel has abruptly changed its position and is suddenly willing to allow the release of all of the documents without reviewing them first.
This change of position occurred after the Government insisted yesterday afternoon that the defense articulate and commit to specific dates for their objections to the release of documents deemed non-privileged or within the Crime-Fraud Order.
In response, the defense abandoned their long-standing objection – expressed as recently as August 23, 2019 – to release of documents to the Prosecution Team absent review by the defense.
The problem now is Mark Scott’s criminal trial is scheduled to kick off in just five and a half weeks.
A period of five-and-a-half weeks does not provide the Government with a reasonable amount of time to review over 70,000 documents that it was just given permission to review for the first time yesterday afternoon.
Unlike defense counsel, who have had all of these materials in their possession since November and December of 2018, the Prosecution Team has been prevented from reviewing these documents due to defense counsel’s insistence that it manually review all documents before they are released to the Prosecution Team.
The DOJ considers review of the released documents as “essential evidence for trial”.
Based on our review so far, these documents include, for example, emails between the defendant and his co-conspirators,
such as OneCoin co-founder Ruja Ignatova. These documents also contain emails sent by Scott and his co-conspirators to banks and other third parties, containing lies that were made in furtherance of the charged money-laundering scheme.
Remember, Scott’s defense team has known what’s in these documents since November 2018.
The Government anticipates that the central issue at trial will be the defendant’s knowledge that the OneCoin proceeds he laundered through a series of purported investment funds derived from unlawful activity.
Therefore, the types of emails described above would be highly probative of the defendant’s knowledge and would be crucial evidence for the Government at trial.
Indeed, the defendant’s privilege litigation strategy appears calculated to deprive the Government of the use of such evidence.
Given the evidently incriminating contents, why they’ve been working to stop and/or delay release of the evidence to the DOJ should be obvious.
No doubt reluctantly, the DOJ has asked the court to adjourn Scott’s scheduled October trial.
A Status Conference was scheduled and I believe held on August 29th.
As of yet however, details of the hearing have yet to be made public. Stay tuned…
Update 31st August 2019 – Mark Scott’s OneCoin trial has been rescheduled for November 4th.