David Green QC, who took over as head of the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) in April 2012, recently told the MPs on the Justice Select Committee that the number of fraud cases that will be prosecuted under his leadership was likely to increase. In anticipation of a report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate in November 2012, which is expected to contain strong criticism of the SFO, he said “There was perhaps a feeling or perception historically that the Serious Fraud Office was willing to do deals rather than to investigate and to prosecute”, something which he vowed to change.
He said the turnover of cases would increase and it is “inevitable, probably” that there will be more prosecutions and that “No-one would be happier than I would if we had more prosecutions”. He went on to describe how he would improve matters and how these changes might be resourced in the future.
The SFO is an independent Government department that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud, and corruption and has a wide range of investigative powers. These powers include the power to require the production documents, to request explanations and to bring prosecutions for those who fail to comply with such requests, which themselves can result in a prison sentence for non-compliance.
Businesses and individuals who find themselves drawn into an SFO investigation or prosecution often do not know where to turn for expert advice and find that the case can last for many years and be very stressful. The complexity of the cases and the many thousands of pages of documentary evidence can be daunting and difficult to deal with. The Legal Services Commissions (“LSC”) have a panel of fraud solicitors with expertise in defending serious fraud and corruption cases and who are accredited by the LSC to deal with Very High Cost Cases (“VHCC”).
Stephensons are one of the largest law firms in the North West but deal with serious fraud cases all over England and Wales. The team regularly defend cases prosecuted in London, have an excellent track record with strong links to a network of specialist financial experts and fraud barristers all over the country.
Stephensons fraud team operate a 24/7 emergency fraud helpline 0175 321 6399, and provide an emergency 24/7 call out service for anyone under arrest or invited to attend an interview under caution under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (“PACE”) in relation to a fraud or corruption investigation by the Police, SFO or Trading Standards.