Author: Azizur Rahman 22 March 2022
Solicitors Journal asked Aziz Rahman what he thought would be the major challenges facing the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) this year.
Aziz explained that with the quashing of former Unaoil executive Ziad Akle’s bribery conviction having led to the Attorney General launching an independent review into the agency, the SFO now needs to prove itself. It must persuade the Attorney General, the business world and its counterparts in other countries that is fit for purpose.
Aziz added that the SFO’s dropping of cases – and its lack of success with others – has not put it in a good light, compared to the US Department of Justice (DOJ). According to him, building bridges with the DOJ may be one of the main tasks facing the SFO, due to their troubled relations in the Unaoil investigation and the need for cross-border cooperation in future cases.
Relations with its European counterparts in the post-Brexit era and future investigations involving environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues will also need to be addressed by the SFO in 2022.
Prior to the Akle case, SFO Director Lisa Osofsky had been vocal about her agency’s role defending the UK economy and had said it had learnt lessons from the collapse of its Serco prosecution.
But, said Aziz, while 2021 did see some successes for the SFO, 2022 is set to pose a sterner test. Pandemic-related fraud and the fall-out from the Akle case are just two factors that could place stresses on the agency.
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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.