Economic Crime

Attorney General written question – answered on 23rd May 2022.

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Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South

To ask the Attorney General, what recent assessment has she made of the Serious Fraud Office's capacity to tackle serious economic crime in 2022-23.

Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South

To ask the Attorney General, what steps the Government is taking to improve prosecution rates for (a) fraud and (b) other economic crime.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk The Solicitor-General

In the last financial year, the Serious Fraud Office prosecuted two corporates, recovered over £45m in proceeds of crime and agreed three Deferred Prosecution Agreements. Between February 2022 and January 2023, the SFO has eight trials; 23 people have been charged with criminality worth over £550m.

The Law Officers meet regularly with senior officials at the Serious Fraud Office to discuss strategy and funding; through these meetings, as well as regular engagement between my Office and the Serious Fraud Office, I am confident that the organisation has the resource required for those trials.

The Government is committed to tackling fraud and economic crime, and the 10-year Fraud Strategy that will be published this year will set out plans to address the threat of fraud including the prosecution of fraudsters.

The majority of Serious Fraud Office cases already pass the ‘no case to answer’ stage. This is when the Judge rules that the prosecution’s evidence is sufficient, the trial will proceed to enable a jury to consider its verdict. It is not within the gift of the Serious Fraud Office, or the Government, to influence this.

In addition to the Fraud Strategy, the Serious Fraud Office received a funding uplift in the 2021 Spending Review, which included £4.4m over three years to invest in technology. This investment will complement the wider work that they are doing to reduce case lengths over the same period. This will have a positive impact on the SFO’s capacity to tackle serious economic crime.

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