Serious Fraud Office closes in on six City firms

Serious Fraud Office closes in on six City firms



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The director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has disclosed that six large City institutions are currently being investigated for fraud, after a number of whistleblowers came forward.

Richard Alderman said: “Half a dozen whistleblowers contacted us with some really great stuff about big-named City institutions. If things work out we should have some major announcements within the next few months.”

Mr Alderman was drafted into the government agency a year ago under plans to make the SFO more proactive, following the collapse of a number of high-profile cases and 90% of senior managers being replaced.

Despite the unit’s budget being cut by more than 10% to £42 million, a recent annual report showed that the SFO’s conviction rate has risen from 61% to 80%.

The SFO is now focusing on exposing corruption in the City, and is planning to use intrusive surveillance techniques such as phone tapping and mail interception, as well as a network of moles – referred to as Covert Human Intelligence Sources – in order to tackle fraud.

Some financial crime lawyers have criticised the new proactive SFO model, arguing that rather than improving investigations, the new director has followed “easy-to-win” cases and let criminals in more complex fraud cases slip away.

Mr Alderman has denied this, saying: “You can't investigate everything. There are victims out there suffering and they want results so you need to stop the cases you have no chance of winning.”

 

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