News & what's on - Written by on Thursday, July 12, 2012 3:28 - 1 Comment

Nightmare on Elm Street over? SFO raids CPS, HMRC and Attorney General’s Office for new blood

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Long before the SFO moves out of its Elm Street Offices to new premises in Cockspur Street there are signs that confidence is returning to the SFO.  Barely three months into his new role as Director of the SFO, David Green CB QC, has wasted no time in implementing some of the changes he trumpeted on his arrival.

Last week we reported that at the C5 conference Mr. Green trailed  some internal changes at the SFO with two fraud casework teams and two bribery teams, each led by a senior civil servant together with a new quality assurance function.

It is reported that in an announcement made with Dominic Grieve QC, MP, the Attorney General who is known to be a staunch supporter of the Serious Fraud Office, David Green announced some new appointments to the SFO.  Those appointments are:

  • His Honour Geoffrey Rivlin QC will be advisor to Mr Green focussing on quality assurance on cases.  The judge who presided over some of the most complex fraud trials before his retirement earlier this year will be well placed to vet investigations and prospective prosecutions in order to avoid some of the recent criticism of the SFO and bungled investigations, notably in relation to the Tchenguiz investigation.
  • Matthew Wagstaff, formerly of the Crown Prosecution Service will join as one of four case division heads.
  • Kristin Jones, formerly of the Attorney General’s Office is head of policy.
  • Alun Milford, formerly of the Crown Prosecution Service will be the new General Counsel replacing Vivian Robinson QC who left a year ago to join a US law firm.
  • Kevin Davis is chief investigating officer on a two year attachment from HMRC.

The appointments are significant in two respects:

First the individuals themselves are respected among the white collar community as excellent professionals in their field.

Second, lately it has been more common to read of departures from the SFO.  The SFO is known to have had difficultly in finding replacements against a backdrop of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the agency.  The fact that the SFO is now able to recruit people of this calibre is good news for the agency which has had its share of unwanted headlines of late.

Contrary to the views expressed by some the fortunes of the SFO appear to be changing for the better.  In recent weeks the SFO has found itself in receipt of fresh political support and extra funding to investigate the LIBOR matter, while re-opening the Weavering Capital hedge fund case.

Mr. Green is already beginning to deliver on the promises he made on his appointment.

Don’t bank on the SFO being toothless.


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