Author: Azizur Rahman 18 May 2023
With HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate having inspected and reported on the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), The Times asked for Aziz Rahman’s assessment of the agency.
In his article, Aziz makes it clear that while this latest report found that the SFO is making progress in addressing its shortcomings, the agency still has much to do to operate as well as it should.
Aziz explains that the latest report follows two external reviews published last year, which were prompted by SFO failures in its Unaoil investigation and the collapsed Serco fraud trial. Those reports, he adds, amounted to a “precise, detailed savaging of the SFO’s operational shortcomings’’.
He says it is notable that the UK government law officers have now asked the Inspectorate to open an investigation into the SFO's handling of disclosure – which was a key focus of the report into the collapsed Serco trial.
Aziz believes that by reviewing its processes and policies, assessing its case management supervision and repairing its challenging internal culture, the SFO could address some concerns being raised by objective observers.
But he states that other issues will depend on funding decisions, with high staff turnover, low morale and unattractive pay leading to a lack of employee commitment, which is hampering the SFO’s track record. He also argues that systemic issues with investigation and case team culture suggest the agency may sometimes be more concerned with saving face than maximum effectiveness.
The full article can be read here (subscription required)
Aziz Rahman is Senior Partner at Rahman Ravelli and its founder. His ability to coordinate national, international and multi-agency defences has led to success in some of the most significant corporate crime cases of this century and top rankings in international legal guides. He is recognised worldwide as one of the most capable legal experts regarding top-level, high-value commercial and financial disputes.