The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is to take orders from a newly-created organisation.
With current Director David Green retiring next April, the government has advertised for his replacement. But it has also announced plans to create a new national economic crime centre with the power to instruct the SFO to investigate cases.
The new department will form part of the National Crime Agency (NCA). It will report directly to the Home Secretary.
It remains to be seen if such an arrangement will take away the SFO’s independence or even make it vulnerable to political interference. Coming months after the Prime Minister’s now abandoned pre-election pledge to have the SFO absorbed into the NCA, only time will tell whether this is a similar attempt to hasten its demise as an effective investigator.
The SFO has to request extra government funding for its top cases. But this has never been seen as an attack on its independence.
After a year in which the SFO has secured major deferred prosecution agreements (DPA’s) with Rolls-Royce and Tesco and brought criminal charges against Barclays and its former senior executives, its staff must wonder what changes are likely.
But whatever changes and new personnel are introduced at the SFO, anyone facing questioning by it will still need solicitors with the expertise and experience that is vital when dealing with its investigators.
Read our article: THE SERIOUS FRAUD OFFICE; WAYS TO DEAL WITH IT