A London ruling that closely criticised the behaviour of the nation’s high fraud law enforcement officials capped a tricky yr for the Critical Fraud Workplace that noticed prosecutions crumble and a conviction quashed.
The choice, which overturned a long-fought for responsible verdict within the Unaoil investigation, lambasted the company for its inappropriate relations with a US fixer that triggered a evaluate into its conduct from the UK’s most senior lawyer and led to requires the company’s head to resign.
The SFO’s latest observe document makes for tough studying.
A fraud trial towards ex-Serco Group collapsed, it confronted accusations of intentionally destroying proof in a civil lawsuit introduced by a agency it was investigating, and it dropped its probe of people simply months after securing a settlement with John Wooden Group.
Earlier than that, a trio of ex-Barclays bankers have been acquitted of fraud prices after simply six hours of jury deliberation and a fraud case towards former Tesco executives was thrown out by a decide. The SFO declined to remark.
“There’s been a litany of disasters over the previous few years,” Joanna Dimmock, a accomplice at Paul Hastings who represented the Unaoil govt, stated.
“I don’t assume it must be the top of the SFO, however I do assume it wants root-and-branch reform as a result of I can’t see how there might be any confidence within the present system,” she stated.
The SFO has had some success by securing responsible pleas from Petrofac and a unit of Airbus properly as a string of settlements often known as deferred prosecution agreements.
Nevertheless it has led some to query whether or not the company beneath the management of ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Osofsky is extra centered on garnering money-making offers somewhat than placing white-collar criminals behind bars.
“From the standpoint of doing offers with corporations and bringing in income, they’re having a terrific couple of years, however for those who’re judging them on with the ability to efficiently prosecute people and firms of essentially the most severe fraud and bribery then I’m afraid it’s a really poor document,” stated Ross Dixon, a lawyer at Hickman and Rose.
The SFO continues to be important to tackling advanced monetary crime however some attorneys argue it wants new management and extra skilled UK prison practitioners on the helm.
The SFO declined to remark past its earlier statements. In relation to the Unaoil ruling, it stated it was cooperating with the UK legal professional common’s evaluate.
It has beforehand stated that deferred prosecution agreements are a “very important device” to making sure “offending corporations are held to account and binds them to a strict regime of company accountability”.