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Serious Fraud Office

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

14. How much the Serious Fraud Office spent on investigating offences of trans-national bribery in 2009. (321519)

The SFO very much recognises the importance of that work. It has an anti-corruption and an international assistance unit working successfully with foreign Governments, and around 15 large-scale anti-corruption cases are currently under investigation. So far this financial year, the SFO has spent about 9 per cent. of its funding on such work.

The SFO needs more money to investigate and prosecute bribery cases. The Solicitor-General will have seen that BAE Systems was required to pay $400 million to the US Department of Justice in relation to the al-Yamamah case. Will she consider how financial penalties paid in such cases in the UK could be used to fund the cost of enforcing the law against bribery?

Yes, there is a relationship already between asset recovery, in a broad and not technical sense, and a premium on that, as it were, for the organisation that has recovered the assets. The issue is one that we are looking at, in order to ensure that, in the criminal sense as it were, the polluter pays.

In the context of asset recovery, will the hon. and learned Lady warmly commend the co-operation between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda Siochana, which are working increasingly closely together to combat all forms of crime, in all parts of the island of Ireland?

Yes, I am sure that is something that should be thoroughly commended, as part of a pattern of co-operative behaviour that is reflected across the UK these days.