The Serious Fraud Office has been praised for its efforts to recover the proceeds of crime, following ‘a lot of recent work on cultural change’.
A report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) found that the SFO’s proceeds of crime teams are ‘effective and proactive’ and that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of its files had a well-structured and thorough case analysis. It also complimented the agency’s Roskill model, which involves investigators and prosecutors working together to build cases. ‘The collaborative approach engendered by the Roskill model was apparent from all the evidence we reviewed,’ it said.
The watchdog added that ‘morale is high’ in the SFO’s proceeds of crime teams and ‘it is evident that there has been a lot of recent work on cultural change’. The observation is perhaps a nod to a review HMCPSI carried out in 2019, which found that the fraud-busting agency was blighted by poor management, favouritism and ‘unacceptable’ behaviour.
HMCPSI also praised the Crown Prosecution Service, saying it brings ‘considerable skill, knowledge, and commitment to the work’. However, it recommended that the CPS adopt aspects of the Roskill model – for example, seconding CPS lawyers to police teams and embedding financial investigators in the CPS.
SFO director Lisa Osofsky said: ‘I am pleased that the inspectors have highlighted the skill and dedication of our team, and we will work with partners at the CPS to take their helpful suggestions into consideration.’
Under Osofsky's leadership, the SFO has recovered over £1bn of illicit gains. However, the agency has had a difficult year after disclosure failing caused the high-profile prosecution of two former Serco directors to collapse. It is also facing legal action in the High Court, with Kazakh mining giant ENRC suing it for misfeasance in public office. It denies the allegations.