Warnings over SFO head reforms

Reforms mooted by new head of SFO will damage the fight against financial crime, pressure groups warn

LONDON – The new director of the Serious Fraud Office Richard Alderman has mooted a series of reforms that lawyers, investigators and pressure groups say would cut the number of criminal cases the agency brought against big companies and senior executives, the Financial Times has reported. A number of lawyers and financial crime investigators told the FT that they are worried by Alderman’s focus on consumer-type frauds, public education and ways of targeting suspects without laying charges, such as civil court asset seizures.

The concerns follow the departure of a third of the senior management team at the SFO, and the pressure groups worry that the organisation will lose vital expertise and leadership on overseas corruption through the departure of division head Helen Garlick. Some also suspect that the reforms are a precursor to closing the SFO or folding it into the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Alderman has said the SFO will retain a major role in prosecuting fraud and corruption, and that no decision on reforms had yet been taken.

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