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Fraud

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

To ask the Solicitor-General what criteria are applied by the (a) Serious Fraud Office and (b) Fraud Prosecution Service to determine whether to accept a case. (229420)

The key criterion used by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) when deciding whether to accept a case is that the suspected fraud appears to be so serious or complex that its investigation should be carried out by those responsible for its prosecution.

Other factors taken into consideration when deciding whether to accept a case are as follows:

Whether the value of the alleged fraud exceeds £1 million;

If the case has a significant international dimension;

If the case is likely to be of widespread public concern;

If the case requires highly specialised knowledge. For example, of financial markets;

If there is a need to use the SFO's special powers, such as section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act.

The SFO could not—and does not—take on every referred case of suspected fraud. SFO resources must be focused on major and complicated fraud. Cases which do not meet the SFO's case acceptance criteria may be referred to other authorities for investigation and prosecution.

The Fraud Prosecution Service (FPS), which prosecutes fraud cases throughout England and Wales, accepts cases which meet one or more of the following criteria: the allegations involve a loss, or risk of loss, of more than £750,000; there is national publicity and/or widespread public concern; highly specialised knowledge is required; a significant element of the case involves inquiries in a foreign jurisdiction.