News & what's on - Written by on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 2:10 - 0 Comments

Opinion: New Serious Fraud Office Director Appointment reflects Americanisation of UK Corporate Crime Enforcement and represents opportunity for further harmonisation

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The UK Serious Fraud Office has appointed Lisa Osofsky as the next Director of the Serious Fraud Office.  Ms. Osofsky will join the SFO on 3 September 2018.

Ms. Osofsky, a former US prosecutor, exemplifies the increasing Americanisation of corporate criminal law enforcement in the UK.

From the entry into force of new laws, including the UK Bribery Act and a Deferred Prosecution Agreement regime, a tougher approach on enforcement and large penalties in recent years UK corporate criminal law has copied various elements of the US toolkit as the UK catches up.

Announcing the appointment the UK Attorney General’s press release said:

“Lisa’s career spans public and private sector” and that “[Ms.] Osofsky brings a wealth of experience to the role, with over 30 years’ experience of focussing on financial crime in both the UK and US. Lisa began her career as a federal prosecutor pursuing white collar crime ranging from benefit, defence contractor and bank fraud to corruption, money laundering and drug conspiracy. In total she has prosecuted over 100 cases on behalf of the US Government.

The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP said:

“I am delighted to announce that Lisa Osofsky will be the next Director of the SFO. Economic crime, at all levels, is a growing and changing threat and tackling it is a priority for the Government.

The SFO will continue to undertake crucial work to investigate and prosecute serious and complex economic crime, as an independent body that works closely and collaboratively with other UK and international authorities to best protect the public.

I have no doubt Lisa is the exceptional candidate we were looking for to lead the SFO at such a critical time. It is clear that economic crime is committed across national boundaries and Lisa’s experience of working at an international level will enhance the SFOs capabilities in this area.”

Commenting on her appointment, Lisa Osofsky said:

“I am honoured to be the next Director of the Serious Fraud Office. I look forward to building on the SFO’s successful record in the fight against economic crime and leading an emboldened SFO to even greater heights.”

Mark Thompson, present Acting Director of the SFO said:

“Lisa has had a distinguished international career focusing on financial crime in both law enforcement and private sector roles.

“I look forward to welcoming her and working with her when she takes over the leadership of the SFO.”


While there are increasing parallels between the US and UK systems, there remain important practical differences between the way authorities across the pond approach transatlantic investigation of suspected corporate crime.

The appointment of a former US prosecutor with years of experience working in the private sector represents an opportunity for further harmonisation of the UK/US approach.

Ms. Osofsky’s appointment is to be welcomed.

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