International - Written by on Saturday, May 21, 2011 23:26 - 0 Comments

SFO wins fight for survival. Next up – more powers…

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Following a report in the Daily Telegraph yesterday that the governments plans to split the investigation and prosecution powers of the SFO were in disarray today it is reported that the SFO has won its bid to keep them together.

The Daily Mail quotes an unnamed senior SFO source as saying:

‘We are not interested in what names or initials we use in the future. All we care about is keeping investigation and prosecution together. We seem to have won that argument, which is very good news. But this battle has taken up a huge amount of management time and has resulted in the conviction of not one single fraudster.’

The high stakes (Richard Alderman threatened to quit) street fight we reported back in February over the future of a combined investigator and prosecutor for serious fraud and corruption appears over.

Any other outcome would be unthinkable and put the clock back 25 years to a split system which was discredited and abandoned.

Senior sources have told us that the SFO is pushing to be given fresh powers to fight and prosecute serious economic crime.

These could include the Deferred Prosecution Agreements, involving judges in the negotiations with corporates before they are charged and feeding into the review of corporate criminal liability with broader use of the reversal of the burden of proof along the lines of the new Failure to Prevent Bribery offence.  All designed to put to bed criticisms made by the courts and others of the SFO in recent years.

Those who doubt the intent of the SFO to prosecute serious economic crime and corruption should take note.

We know that the SFO is serious in its ambition to significantly turn up the heat on corruption and economic crime.

It will do so using the new tools including the Bribery Act in conjunction with existing UK money laundering laws which make conviction easier.  It now seeks the final pieces in the puzzle.

Image © Crown Copyright 2011

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