Back to school…but is it time for a change?
As summer holidays are upon us it is not just school children receiving their school report – both the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority have issued their own annual reports presented to Parliament. Both reports combine a strategic overview with detailed budget statements and a headline view of key successes for 2014-15.
The SFO is “well equipped and confident” as to its role and mission
The bulk of the SFO’s resources were focused on the core business of investigation and prosecution, and associated proceeds of crime casework. Pursuing cases that undermined the City and “UK Plc”, 16 new investigations were opened in the year (including Forex, Tesco and the Sweett Group) with major investigations concerning LIBOR, Rolls-Royce, GlaxoSmithKline, Barclays Bank, ENRC and GPT making progress. Innospec and Smith and Ouzman prosecutions were completed with convictions of the corporate as well as senior officials in relation to foreign bribery. This year saw first convictions under the Bribery Act, a guilty plea in one of the LIBOR cases, and the conviction of Ulf Magnus Petersen for the Weavering Capital hedge fund fraud.
On the down side, the report recognises that the settlement of the civil claims brought by Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz and their associated business entities cost the SFO dear. High value litigation brought against the SFO is identified as a long term liability and key risk.
The SFO conviction rate over the year was 78% by defendant, and 18 defendants in 9 cases were successfully prosecuted. As to proceeds of crime, the SFO reports £26.5million in confiscation orders with a recovery of £13.7m. In a similar vein, HMRC published their own report for 2014-2015 reporting £26.6 billion from compliance work (civil and criminal) with 1289 prosecutions for tax offences.
30 defendants in 7 cases have been charged and await their trial. These include 12 individuals featuring in the LIBOR investigation. Deferred Prosecution Agreements are being actively considered in a number of cases with David Green confident that this new tool will make a real difference in the SFO’s dealings with “cooperative corporates”. However with a new round of cuts expected it will be interesting to see how this may impact on the SFO which has recently benefited from emergency funding to supplement its overstretched budget.
A review of the FCA Annual Report can be found here.
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Practice Development Lawyer
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