Skip to main content

Economic Crime

Volume 540: debated on Tuesday 7 February 2012

3. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the director of the Serious Fraud Office on the capacity and effectiveness of organisations tackling economic crime. (93673)

The Attorney-General and I hold regular meetings with the director of the Serious Fraud Office, at which we discuss all aspects of its work, including individual cases and the development of deferred prosecution agreements as an additional weapon in our criminal justice armoury. We also hold regular meetings with the Home Secretary and her Ministers, but there have been no recent discussions on economic crime. I remind the hon. Lady of the Home Office paper entitled “The National Crime Agency: A plan for the creation of a national crime-fighting capability”, which was published in June 2011. The NCA will include an economic crime command.

I thank the Solicitor-General for his answer. Given that the Serious Fraud Office is facing cuts of 23% and that the Law Society Gazette has reported on deferred prosecution agreements, will he update the House generally on those agreements? Specifically, will they be available for the public so that those dealing with companies that are subject to such agreements can see that?

When DPAs come into the criminal justice system in this country, they will be available to the public in the sense that they will be operated by the director of the Serious Fraud Office, who is a public prosecutor. I am not sure that I can help the hon. Lady much further than that. The matter is under discussion and we are developing it within Government. Further announcements will be made just as soon as we are ready.

Given that when investigating the failure of RBS, Adair Turner concluded that the FSA has little power under the existing rules to take action against individuals associated with the banking crisis; that the director of the SFO believes that

“things have got to change”;

and that we are still waiting for anyone in the UK to be prosecuted in relation to the global financial crisis, will the Solicitor-General use his best efforts to persuade the Attorney-General to look again at introducing a crime of corporate negligence so that prosecutors have a full range of weapons in their armoury to use in future against reckless financiers?

The Attorney-General and I always use our best efforts. The development of the criminal law is within the remit of the Ministry of Justice. I am sure that the hon. Lady will address her remarks, via the right hon. Member for Tooting (Sadiq Khan), to that Department.