Serious Fraud Office
A review of the Serious Fraud Office, set up 20 years ago to investigate and prosecute major frauds, found senior managers lacked skills, knowledge and perseverance. It said the organisation's success rate was woeful compared with that of similar agencies in the U.S!
Some SFO staff even abused the internal complaint process by filing grievances against line managers who had handed out "frank assessments", the study found. (Serious Fraud Office!
) While the SFO prosecutor charged seven defendants in five years, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York alone charged 50, and the SFO's conviction rate for 2003 to 2007 was 61 per cent, compared with 92 per cent for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office!
"A criminal justice system that produces this little cannot be said to be effective in deterring, detecting or punishing criminals who commit serious white-collar crimes," said the report's author, former senior U.S. prosecutor Jessica de Grazia. She warned that the lack of focus in investigations was "a matter of grave concern," and while there were some very capable senior managers in the SFO, others in key positions on the senior management team lacked the operational knowledge, experience and perseverance required to supervise, mentor and problem-solve, and to command the respect of the troops.
A consequence of this was that a "pass the buck, risk-averse, complaint" culture had developed in the SFO which discouraged robust decision-making and innovative and effective use of powers. The report proposed changes to the "cumbersome" system of disclosure, noting that in one transatlantic case disclosure took prosecution legal teams six weeks to complete in the U.S, while in the UK it took the SFO two years!
Attorney General Baroness Scotland QC today immediately rejected the recommendation to change disclosure rules adding "Tackling fraud effectively is a matter of the highest priority." Except of course if it gets in the way of buck-passing, and filing grievances against line managers who hand out "frank assessments"! DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT - JOIN NAVIGOR TODAY !