Serious Fraud Office: Economic Crime

Attorney General – in the House of Commons on 1st July 2021.

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Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Conservative, Thirsk and Malton

What recent assessment he has made of the Serious Fraud Office’s effectiveness in prosecuting serious economic crime.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Solicitor-General, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I recognise the significant work that my hon. Friend has done to protect victims in this area, both as a constituency MP and in his role on the all-party groups on fair business banking and for whistleblowing. In the past 12 months the Serious Fraud Office had brought a number of individuals and corporations to justice, including successful prosecutions in its Unaoil case, uncovering $17 million in bribes. A conviction against GPT resulted in £30 million of confiscations, fines and costs, and deferred prosecution agreements with G4S and Airline Services Limited have resulted in more than £47 million in penalties and costs.

Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Conservative, Thirsk and Malton

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for her answer. The GPT case she refers to was one of the SFO’s rare successes in court in a proven case of corruption. I think there were £28 million of penalties, although it may be £30 million, as she said, including costs. My constituent, Ian Foxley, was a key whistleblower in that case, but he has been completely hung out to dry by the SFO, and has had 10 years without any financial compensation—10 years of lost income. What effect does the Minister think that will have on future whistleblowers, and the likelihood that they will come forward with key evidence? Will she meet me and my constituent to discuss the matter and see what can be done?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Solicitor-General, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I reassure my hon. Friend that the SFO recognises the importance of whistleblowers to its work, and if appropriate I would be happy to meet him to discuss the case and perhaps the issue more broadly. In that particular case the judge concluded that it was not suitable to make a compensation order, and that is why the SFO concluded that it would not be appropriate to put Mr Foxley’s victim impact statement before the court. I hope to discuss those issues more fully with my hon. Friend.