Economic Crime: Serious Fraud Office and CPS Effectiveness

Attorney General – in the House of Commons at on 7 December 2022.

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Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Scotland)

What steps she is taking to improve the effectiveness of the (a) Serious Fraud Office and (b) Crown Prosecution Service in prosecuting cases of fraud and economic crime.

Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

What steps she is taking to improve the effectiveness of the (a) Serious Fraud Office and (b) Crown Prosecution Service in prosecuting cases of fraud and economic crime.

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson The Solicitor-General

Last year the Crown Prosecution Service prosecuted 7,200 defendants where fraud and forgery were the principal offence, and the conviction rate was 84.1%. This financial year, the Serious Fraud Office has successfully prosecuted four fraudsters, as well as Glencore, which resulted in the highest ever order in a corporate criminal conviction in the UK.

Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Scotland)

There were almost 940,000 fraud offences in the latest Home Office data, but only around 4,800 of those offences resulted in charges or summonses. The exact charge rate was just 0.51%, which is even lower than the rate of the previous year. Why does the Attorney General think the charge rate for fraud is so abysmally low? What does she plan to do about it?

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson The Solicitor-General

The figures show that, last year, the CPS prosecuted 7,200 defendants where fraud and forgery were the principal offence, and the conviction rate was 84.1%. In April 2022, the CPS launched a united team, and a new serious economic, organised crime and international directorate has been set up to help in that regard.

Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

It is a simple fact of life that we cannot tackle a problem if we do not know the scale and nature of that problem. Does the Attorney General agree that the Government need urgent answers to three basic questions, “What is the total scale of fraud in the UK? How much of it is perpetrated from overseas? And how much of it is perpetrated by organised crime?”? Can we have an answer to any of those questions today?

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson The Solicitor-General

Both the CPS and the SFO play a significant role in tackling fraud and economic crime, and we should not gloss over the successes that there have been. Once again, I pay tribute to the SFO for its successful prosecution of Glencore, which resulted in a £280 million total payment, the highest ever that has been ordered in a corporate criminal conviction in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, House of Commons Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee

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