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Serious Fraud Office

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

16. What the policy of the Serious Fraud Office is on assistance for those who have lost substantial savings to fraudsters. (321521)

The Serious Fraud Office puts victims at the heart of its work. In this financial year it has recovered about £9 million from fraudsters, and £4 million of that has been paid back to victims.

My hon. and learned Friend and I both served on all 39 sittings of the Standing Committee on the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. It was never stated in those deliberations that the money had to go back to the victims. Why has only £4 million of that £9 million gone back to the victims? Does that meet their needs and reflect how much they lost in the first place?

The SFO puts a premium on ensuring that money is repaid to victims whenever possible. Sometimes, however, it is not practical to identify where money has come from. On some occasions it has come from organisations, and is returned to them; on others, it comes into the public purse. When dealing with assets recovery, the SFO’s intention is, first and foremost, to ensure repayment to identifiable victims.

Insider trading is one of the most awful kinds of fraud. Is the Serious Fraud Office able to cope with looking after the victims of this specialist fraud, especially in the light of the fact that if the opposition got into power, they would abolish the SFO?

Like a large number of the things that the Opposition would do if they got in, that would be seriously unwise. The SFO very much has its eye on the whole insider trading agenda. It has specialists to look into it, and they can help to support the victims of that particularly heinous form of fraud.