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Serious Fraud Office

Volume 558: debated on Tuesday 12 February 2013

4. Whether the Serious Fraud Office holds contracts with any companies which are subject to a criminal investigation by a prosecuting agency overseas. (142504)

The Serious Fraud Office is not routinely informed about the work of overseas prosecuting agencies and where it is properly involved, it would not be appropriate to comment in relation to current investigations or prosecutions.

The Attorney-General knows that at least one contractor of the Serious Fraud Office is being investigated for fraud overseas. Apart from being embarrassing, does this not constitute a conflict of interest? Will he tell the House when he proposes to publish the findings of the Allan report, which was completed in 2011?

I shall start by dealing with the first part of the question and then deal briefly with Sir Alex Allan’s report. I am not in a position to comment on what is or is not being investigated. That is a private matter for the Serious Fraud Office. When it takes on an investigation, wherever it can, it publishes that on its website, but there are sometimes circumstances where it cannot do so without prejudice to the investigation. If I may say to the hon. Lady, such conflicts of interest can arise quite frequently, but there are a whole series of protocols in place in prosecutorial organisations to ensure that that does not impede their efficiency or ability to carry out such investigations.

As for Sir Alex Allan’s report, the hon. Lady knows from what I have said previously in the House that I would very much like to see as much of its contents as possible published, but there are issues in respect of data protection. When I have worked through those, I hope to be able to satisfy her wishes in that respect.