SFO’s tip-off service nets no investigations

THE SERIOUS Fraud Office has had its hands full in the last year. From Libor to ENRC to GSK, a dizzying array of acronyms has built up in its in-tray.

So it’s laudable that the SFO took the time this week to email in about a story City A.M. ran in March on the organisation’s tip-off phone line, SFO Confidential.

Diligent readers will remember that the whistle-blowing phone service received more than 2,700 calls about complex fraud or corruption in 2012.

While the fraud squad said at the time that a mere three formal investigations were started as a result of these calls last year, in fact the number of probes yielded by SFO Confidential was zero.

The mix-up arose because three investigations began after the launch of the service in November 2011, but it has since turned out the tip-offs came in before the phone line was live, the SFO said.

The fraud body decided to close the service in June 2012 as a “disproportionate amount of staff time was being spent dealing with telephone calls”.

This new figure suggests it was a pretty sensible decision.