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In praise of the SFO

Why would any government scrap a financial fraud watchdog that has shown leadership in innovation and generates significant revenue for the Treasury, asks Pavlos Panayi QC

19 July 2017

Fraud lawyers breathed a collective sigh of relief at the news that the proposal to abolish the Serious Fraud Office and merge its functions into the National Crime Agency was absent from the Queen’s Speech.

It is worth remembering why the SFO was founded and is now widely regarded as a world-class prosecuting authority. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the failure of the authorities to effectively prosecute fraud was damaging the reputation of the City of London and of Britain in the world.

Scandals like the collapse of Johnson Matthey Bankers in 1984 and allegations of fraud associated with the Lloyd’s of London insurance market syndicates led to a growing international perception that UK law enforcement was incapable of investigating and prosecuting complex fraud, particularly where many of the suspects had resources which far outmatched those available to the po...

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