What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Serious Fraud Office in recovering the proceeds of crime.
In 2019-20, the Serious Fraud Office secured more than £13 million in new financial orders against criminals it investigated, with payments received against previous orders totalling more than £7 million. That strong performance has continued this year. In July, the SFO secured confiscation orders totalling £5.45 million against former Afren employees, and in September, the SFO used for the first time a listed asset recovery order to recover £500,000-worth of jewellery in a long-running mortgage fraud case.
I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that answer, and it is very encouraging to see the efforts being taken to make sure that crime does not pay. What has been the impact of covid-19 on the SFO’s capacity to recover crime proceeds?
I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s question. While covid-19 has obviously had an impact on the court system and caused some delays in obtaining and enforcing court orders, the SFO has continued to progress its proceeds of crime work, successfully obtaining confiscation orders and using new asset recovery powers to recover money in a long-running fraud case. Its ability to maintain operational effectiveness in the face of the challenges posed by covid-19 was recognised in the report by the inspectorate on the SFO’s response to the pandemic.