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Serious Fraud Office

Volume 548: debated on Tuesday 10 July 2012

Owing to their complexity, SFO cases rarely conclude in the same year in which the prosecution, still less the investigation, begins. In 2011, the SFO concluded 14 fraud cases and 28 defendants were convicted; a further seven bribery cases were brought to a successful conclusion.

With the SFO budget being cut by 25% over the course of this Parliament, what advantages does the Solicitor-General think the introduction of deferred prosecution agreements will bring, apart from plugging the financial hole in fraud investigations through plea bargains with corporate perpetrators?

Deferred prosecution agreements bring with them self-evident advantages: they will ensure that companies are brought to justice, through confession, through whistleblowing or through investigation; they will bring speed, as a resolution in these matters will be brought forward much more quickly—the average SFO case takes about three and a half years and costs about £1.5 million; they will bring compensation to victims; they will avoid collateral damage to innocent parties; and they will provide an additional weapon in the prosecutor’s armoury. I hope that the hon. Lady would welcome that.