About the SFO


In the Interest of the Public

Fraud is the homage that force pays to reason.

- Charles Curtis

Fraud Office Needs Its Wider Powers for Success

Sir, - I noted your lead article on fraud (Feb 17).  It is timely, in light of that article, to remember that Parliament established the Serious Fraud Office separate from the police with the intention that the SFO focus on the investigation and prosecution of serious or complex fraud.

The SFO does not face the problem faced by its police fraud squad colleagues, who have to balance the investigation of fraud with the investigation of a range of other crime, though the SFO does have to determine the priorities of the various cases it has under investigation.

The SFO has a well-established protocol with the police to identify which cases could properly be considered serious or complex fraud in terms of the Serious Fraud Office Act 1990.  There are three basic criteria:

bulletThe complaint involves an actual or potential fraud in excess of $500,000.
bulletThe facts, law or evidence is of significant complexity.
bulletThe complaint is of significant public interest and/or involves a public figure.

The SFO liaises regularly with the police to ensure that fraud complaints are being handled by the appropriate agency.  The success of a prosecution very often turns on documentary evidence available to support the allegations of wrongdoing.

Parliament recognised this and provided the SFO with wider powers than the police to obtain the documentary evidence necessary to effectively combat serious or complex fraud.

It is desirable that all such material be secured as early as possible in an investigation.  We would encourage people with complaints that they believe may amount to serious or complex fraud to refer them to the SFO at the earliest opportunity.

D J Bradshaw
Serious Fraud Office

Source: The Dominion Wednesday 24 February 1999

Of course, the Serious Fraud Office is so busy, they may not get a chance to check into any allegations you bring them for years...

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