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Fraud and Economic Crime

Volume 711: debated on Thursday 24 March 2022

10. What steps she is taking to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the (a) Serious Fraud Office and (b) Crown Prosecution Service in tackling fraud and economic crime. (906264)

Economic crime is highly complex. In the year ending September 2021, the CPS prosecuted 7,609 defendants where fraud and forgery were the principal offence, with a conviction rate of 84.9%. As for the SFO, it performed strongly last year: in 2021, it secured three deferred prosecution agreements, including one with Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited involving a financial settlement of £103 million. Furthermore, it successfully prosecuted GPT Special Project Management and Petrofac, resulting in just over £100 million in financial penalties.

Between 2013 and 2019, the Serious Fraud Office secured convictions against five corporations out of 43 investigations. We can literally count the number of successful prosecutions on one hand. Does the Attorney General regard that as an acceptable recent track record for the Serious Fraud Office? If not, how does she plan to change it?

The hon. Lady makes an interesting point. Just yesterday I met the director of the Serious Fraud Office; I am glad that this year looks like a very active year. The SFO is taking seven trials involving 20 defendants to court in 2022, and will be pursuing those convicted to ensure that funds from criminal conduct are confiscated and victims are rightly compensated. The estimated value of fraud across all seven trials this year is more than £540 million in a number of jurisdictions. That is a great amount of work, and something we should all be getting behind.