Serious Fraud Office calls for change in law

City A.M. Reporter
THE SERIOUS Fraud Office (SFO) said yesterday the law must be changed if critics want to see more companies in court for misconduct.

Serious Fraud Office director David Green said he was constantly being compared unfavourably with US enforcement agencies, which prosecute far more companies for fraud.

The SFO faces a much higher burden of proof than US agencies, having to show a company’s board is complicit.

“The email trail has a habit of drying up at the middle management level,” Green told an American Bar Association conference on white collar crime.

“If it is in the public interest for more corporate prosecutions, the test must be lowered.”

Next year, Britain introduces US-style plea bargaining deals known as deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs), whereby a company is charged but the prosecution is suspended in return for a fine, compensation or other sanctions.

“If the prosecution of a corporate is so difficult as it is at the present without the change I propose, why should a corporate agree to enter a DPA at all?” said Green, who took up the reins at the SFO in April last year.

He said the SFO would not hesitate to prosecute even difficult cases, and that “blockbuster” funding reserves were on tap to pursue big cases such as the rigging of Libor.