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The UK Serious Fraud Office’s annual report for the year ended March 31, 2015 reports, among other things, a 78% conviction rate, 16 new investigations while 30 defendants await trial. These statistics represent an upward trend from the previous year.

Details of enforcement

1. The SFO has opened 16 new investigations in the year.

  • These include Forex, Tesco and the Sweett Group.
  • Our major investigations concerning LIBOR, Rolls-Royce, GlaxoSmithKline, Barclays Bank, ENRC and GPT have continued to make progress.

2. The SFO’s conviction rate over the year was 78% by defendant, and 18 defendants in 9 cases were successfully prosecuted.

a) We completed the Innospec and Smith and Ouzman prosecutions, both resulting in the conviction of the corporate as well as senior officials in relation to foreign bribery.

b) We saw our first convictions under the Bribery Act, a guilty plea in one of the LIBOR cases, and the conviction of Ulf Magnus Petersen for the Weavering Capital hedge fund fraud.

3. The SFO made considerable investment in our proceeds of crime activity. This has resulted in £26.5 million ($41.3 million) in confiscation orders, and recovery of £13.7 million ($58.8 million). 4. 30 defendants in 7 cases have been charged and await their trial.

a) These include 12 individuals featuring in the LIBOR investigation.

b) We are actively considering the possibility of Deferred Prosecution Agreements in a number of cases.

Background of SFO Powers/ Scope of Cases

The SFO is an independent non-ministerial Government department responsible for investigating and, where appropriate, prosecuting cases of serious or complex fraud, bribery and corruption. The department forms part of the criminal justice system with jurisdiction in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The SFO was given its powers under the Criminal Justice Act 1987 following the 1986 ‘Roskill Report’ (report of the Fraud Trials Committee). The Roskill Report recommended that, as these kinds of cases are very complex, multi-disciplinary teams of lawyers and investigators would need to work together from the beginning to secure more effective outcomes. The SFO takes on a small number of large cases and these will include cases:

  • where the conduct under investigation undermines UK commercial/financial in general and the City of London in particular;
  • where the actual or potential sums involved are high;
  • where actual or potential harm is significant;
  • where there is a very significant public interest element; and,
  • that represent new species of fraud.

Angela Ang is a senior associate with the Baker McKenzie Hong Kong Dispute Resolution Group and has extensive experience in a broad range of contentious matters including commercial litigation, corporate insolvency and cross-border investigations. She regularly contributes to firm publications on Hong Kong and China anti-bribery and compliance topics. Her current role as the Group's professional support lawyer includes managing its knowledge resources and providing project management support in multi-jurisdictional investigations. Ms. Ang is qualified as a solicitor in Hong Kong, Victoria (Australia) and England & Wales.

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