A New Director For The UK's Serious Fraud Office

Author:Mr Stephen Pollard and Elly Proudlock

Some time in April of this year—the exact date has not yet been decided—the current Director of the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Richard Alderman, will step down. He will be replaced by David Green QC, who will hold the post for four years. What are possible implications of this change for the SFO and those it investigates? Our view is that Mr. Green is likely to oversee a subtle shift in emphasis at the SFO, away from settled outcomes and towards more traditional investigation and prosecution of corporate offending. Mr. Green is a respected criminal barrister with 25 years of experience in both prosecution and defense work. In 2004, he became the first director of the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO), a government body established to prosecute tax, drug, money laundering and import/export offences. Mr. Green held the RCPO directorship for six years, leading it in its merger with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in 2010. He was Director of the CPS Central Fraud Group for a year following the merger, and in 2011, returned to private practice. Like Mr. Alderman, Mr. Green also has substantial experience in government. However, he differs from his predecessor in that he has spent the majority of his professional life in private practice. Although he is perhaps not closely associated with white-collar crime, he is particularly well regarded as a prosecutor and his appointment is likely to result in a more aggressive SFO with a greater emphasis on prosecution of serious fraud. Under Mr. Alderman's leadership, the SFO has seen a gradual move towards more collaborative methods of dealing with corporate offending. In recent years, the SFO has relied increasingly on self-reporting, plea negotiations and civil settlements as alternatives to prosecution, particularly in relation to corruption cases. Since the 2008 Balfour Beatty case concerning a £2.25 million civil settlement for "books and records" offences, there have been a number of similar settlements. More recently, the government has proposed the introduction of US-style deferred prosecution agreements which, if...

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