Serious Fraud Office

Update on SFO’s first Bribery Act case

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has updated a webpage on its case relating to Sustainable Agroenergy plc and Sustainable Wealth Investments UK Ltd.  These are the first charges to be brought by the SFO under the Bribery Act.

The SFO is investigating the activities of these and associated companies in connection with selling bio-fuel investment products involving Jatropha tree plantations in South East Asia.  Webpage.

SFO Brings First Charges Under the Bribery Act 2010

On August 14, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) published a press release announcing that it has charged four men with offenses of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to furnish false information, contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977, in connection with the investigation by the SFO into the promotion and selling of “bio fuel” investment products to UK investors.  The value of the alleged fraud is approximately £23 million, and the offenses are said to have taken place between April 2011 and February 2012.  The SFO has also charged three of those four men with offenses of making and accepting a financial advantage, contrary to sections 1(1) and 2(1) of the Bribery Act 2010.  These are the first charges to be brought by the SFO under the Bribery Act.  Press ReleaseInvestigation.

UK Prosecution Authorities Launch Consultation on Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs)

On June 27, the Serious Fraud Office and Director of Public Prosecutions launched a consultation on DPAs, which are being introduced under the Crime and Courts Act 2013 in February 2014.

DPAs are US-style voluntary agreements between prosecutors and companies whereby a company is charged with a criminal offense (e.g. bribery or fraud) but proceedings are automatically suspended provided the company comes to an agreement with the prosecutor, usually involving a financial penalty, payment of compensation and/or co-operation with future prosecutions of individuals.  Consultation Document.

UK Serious Fraud Office Launches Criminal Investigation into FTSE 100 Kazakh Miner ENRC

On April 25, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that it has opened a formal criminal investigation into London-listed ENRC, following allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption surrounding its assets in Kazakhstan and Africa.

The probe will come as no surprise to many as it follows recent claims by a whistleblower, which led to the suspension of a manager in Mozambique and the initiation of an internal investigation led by a law firm.  The SFO had already made a formal demand for documents from that law firm, meaning that they had reasonable grounds to suspect an offense involving serious or complex fraud or corruption.  Announcement.

Libor Update

On December 11, the Serious Fraud Office (the SFO) published a press release stating that three men had been arrested and interviewed in relation to its investigation into the manipulation of LIBOR.  Although the three men have not been charged with wrongdoing, the move is being reported as indicative of a shift of focus in the LIBOR investigation away from institutions and onto individuals, as well as a shift of focus away from banks and onto brokers.

Three Convicted for £10 Million Ponzi Scheme

On August 13, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) published a press release announcing that three people involved in a £10 million ponzi scheme have been convicted at Bradford Crown Court.  Two other defendants were acquitted of charges of money laundering.  Press Release

The three people were trading as Gilher Inc. and targeted UK investors and ex-pats in Majorca.  Mr. John Hirst had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and two counts of money laundering.  Mr. Richard Pollett was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, and Ms. Linda Hirst was found guilty of three counts of money laundering and evading a liability by deception.  All individuals (excluding Mr. Pollett) had been charged in 2011.

Sentencing will take place on August 31, with confiscation and compensation proceedings to follow later. 

SFO Confirms Criminal Offences are Capable of Covering LIBOR Conduct

On July 30, the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) published a press release stating that the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, David Green QC, is satisfied that existing criminal offences are capable of covering conduct relating to the alleged manipulation of LIBOR and related interest rates. Press Release.

SFO Press Release on Manipulation of LIBOR

On July 2, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) published a press release regarding the manipulation of the setting of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Press release.

In the press release, the SFO stated that it had been working closely with the FSA and now that the FSA has concluded its investigation into the regulatory misbehaviour, the SFO is considering whether it is both appropriate and possible to bring criminal prosecutions.

The SFO hopes to come to a conclusion regarding possible criminal prosecutions within a month. It is also working with the relevant authorities that are carrying out equivalent investigations in other jurisdictions.

On July 2, a statement made by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer on LIBOR and related reforms concerning the banking sector was also published. This included an initiative to establish a joint committee to conduct an inquiry into professional standards in the banking industry. Statement.