Bribery Act & Proceeds of Crime - Written by on Thursday, June 14, 2012 17:04 - 1 Comment

SFO Director unveils SFO shake up & intention to put ‘Serious’ & ‘Fraud’ back into the SFO

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“I am very proud to lead the SFO. I aim to recharge the SFO’s corporate self-respect and to bring it to the top of its game as a major crime fighting agency…”

In stories carried by the Financial Times and Reuters it was reported that speaking yesterday David Green CB QC revealed more of his plans for the SFO and made it plain he is injecting a healthy dose of self esteem back into the agency.

While much of what he said is a repeat of earlier statements which we distilled back in April there were some new elements.

Mr Green underscored again that the SFO is going to focus on *serious* fraud cases, corruption here and abroad and that cases must be in the public interest to be worthy of scarce SFO resources.

Mr Green highlighted his interest in expanding the SFO’s Proceeds of Crime Act unit adopting a “cradle to grave” approach to investigation, prosecution and confiscation with the SFO’s POCA unit being set up as a separate division of the SFO.   It will have a target to increase confiscation of criminally obtained assets and compensation of victims.

We have written repeatedly about the importance of UK money laundering laws and their ability to be a lucrative source of revenue for the SFO on top of its annual budget from the Treasury.  This could be a game changer for the SFO.

Internally the SFO is to undergo a reorganisation with the creation of four divisions.  Intelligence, known to be a bugbear, will be improved and there will be “layers of quality control” at every stage of an investigation.

A new role of Chief Prosecutor will be created and the new Director will be looking to the City and private practice to second lawyers to the agency.

While the new SFO Director is known to strongly favour Deferred Prosecution Agreements (currently under consultation) in a clear warning and placating opponents who argue that there should not be one rule for some and not for others he reportedly said:

“Corporates cannot be seen to be allowed some special kid glove treatment. In any case where there is a reasonable prospect of conviction, and it’s in the public interest to prosecute, the SFO will prosecute, whether individuals or corporates…”

Opinion

The new SFO Director has set out clear objectives for the agency.

None should come as a surprise and we fully expect that he will deliver.  It is wishful thinking to assume the SFO will not execute on its threats to pursue prosecution of serious fraud and corruption. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it could never happen.

(With thanks to www.thebriberyact.com readers attending the event)

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