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Emma Allen

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Akash Jamang

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Amy Cheng

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Emma Allen

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2024年3月21日

Disputes Quick Read – 2 / 88 观点

New SFO Director announces bold plans to tackle fraud

  • Quick read

Nick Ephgrave, the new Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), gave his first speech on Tuesday 13 February 2024. Outlining the key priorities under his Directorship, Ephgrave boldly announced plans to reinvigorate the SFO to adopt a more aggressive approach overall in cracking down on corporate crime and fraud, stating "I want to be the first to prosecute someone under the new provisions of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act".

New corporate offences under the Act include a corporate offence of failure to prevent fraud, which applies to large organisations, plus a widening of the test for corporate attribution of liability for economic crime (which now extends beyond the "directing mind and will test" to "senior managers").

Included in Ephgrave's ambitious plans are proposals to incentivise whistleblowers via financial remuneration, to conduct more dawn raids (with Ephgrave noting that the SFO has conducted more dawn raids in the past three months than it had in the past three years), and to make use of sentence reduction offers in order to encourage offender cooperation in SFO investigations. 

Ephgrave noted that he is looking closely at how the SFO's US counterparts operate - for example, he stated whilst we have legislation available to encourage offenders to assist law enforcement authorities with investigations, its use is not "well-developed" in comparison to the US, where it is "done without any question". 

In acknowledging the shortcomings of the current UK regime, Ephgrave commented on the need for a faster evidence review process on active cases, including spearheading the use of technology assisted review within the organisation, as well as more proactivity and collaboration with other law enforcement agencies in general - with Ephgrave citing the recent cooperation between the Met and the SFO in the Axiom Ince case.

The new Director's speech is a further signal that domestic fraud is high on the agenda for the UK government and law enforcement agencies, and suggests that we can expect to see greater use of the legislative powers which are already available. 

A transcript of the speech can be found here.

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