New SFO head named
Attorney General Victoria Prentis has announced that Nick Ephgrave QPM will be the new director of the UK's Serious Fraud Office.
According to a statement by Attorney General Victoria Prentis KC MP, Ephgrave was selected following an open and transparent competition and will take up the appointment at the end of September for an initial term of five years. He will replace the outgoing director, Lisa Osofsky, wjho has been director of the agency since 2018
“I am delighted to announce that Nick Ephgrave QPM will become the next Director of the SFO," Prentis said. "Nick’s years of experience as a leader in law enforcement and across the wider criminal justice system make him the ideal candidate to drive the SFO forward in it continuing its fight against economic crime.”
The attorney general also thanked Lisa Osofsky for her years of service to the SFO.
Most recently, Ephgrave was chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Criminal Justice Co-ordination Committee and held roles on the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee and the Sentencing Council.
Between February 2019 and September 2022, he was assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service and, prior to this, he was the chief constable for Surrey Police between December 2015 and February 2019.
The SFO is a non-ministerial department headed by the director and is a specialist investigating and prosecuting authority that tackles the top-level of serious or complex fraud, bribery, and corruption in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The SFO is an operationally independent prosecuting body. It is responsible for making decisions on whether an investigation should be opened and ultimately if a case should be prosecuted.
Ephgrave said: “I am honoured to be the next Director of the SFO. The SFO plays a unique and pivotal role in the UK’s response to economic crime. I look forward to building on its recent successes and driving forward work to deliver long-lasting improvements to its operations”.
Lisa Osofsky, director of the SFO said: “I am delighted to welcome Nick Ephgrave as the next director of the Serious Fraud Office. As an experienced criminal justice leader, he will take forward our fight and help ensure we continue delivering for victims and the public.”
Shula de Jersey, a partner at BCL Solicitors in London, said: "The appointment of Nick Ephgrave as Director of the SFO will see a non-lawyer in the post for the first time. Whilst he will be joining at an exciting time for the SFO with the likely introduction of the new failure to prevent fraud offence through the Economic Crime & Transparency Bill, and the widening of the identification principle, which, if it becomes law, should assist the SFO in its enforcement action against corporates, he will first have to grapple with continuing to improve the SFO’s culture.
She said that legacy issues identified in last year's reviews of two SFO investigations threaten to derail the agency's progress if the recommendations set out in those reports are not properly implemented.
"A recent report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate found that there “was more work to be done” to get the SFO back on track, so Mr Ephgrave has a huge challenge ahead of him," de Jersey said. "No doubt his significant experience of being in senior leadership roles within both Surrey Constabulary and the Metropolitan Police will assist in that challenge. With fraud now accounting for over 40% of all offences in England and Wales, it is vital that Mr Ephgrave has the financial support needed from Government to ensure the SFO is an effective investigating and prosecuting agency."