The Treasury has agreed to cough up millions of pounds of extra funding to tide the Serious Fraud Office over to the end of its financial year.

A written ministerial statement made today by the solicitor general Oliver Heald QC said: ‘I would like to inform the House of Commons that a cash advance from the contingencies fund has been sought for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).’

It said the SFO will seek £19m of extra money on top of its £52m budget for 2013-14 and £24m ‘blockbuster’ funding for the progression of high-profile cases.

The SFO’s financial year runs to the end of March. A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said the extra cash is needed for the investigation and prosecution work on ‘large, resource-intensive’ cases in the remainder of the financial year, including the Libor, Barclays Qatar and [engine maker] Rolls-Royce investigations and costs in connection with the Tchenguiz litigation.

Until that money is approved, the SFO will receive £11m from the Treasury’s contingency fund, a pool to meet unforeseen expenditures.
Heald said the SFO has incurred ‘higher than anticipated expenditure’ and a reserve claim has been agreed by the Treasury as part of the supplementary estimate process.

He said: ‘The advance is required to meet an urgent cash requirement on existing services pending parliamentary approval of the 2013-14 supplementary estimate.

‘The supplementary estimate seeks an increase in both the resource departmental expenditure limit and the net cash requirement in order to settle material liabilities.’

Stephen Parkinson, head of criminal law at London firm Kingsley Napley LLP said: 'This is a huge increase in the SFO's budget for the year.

‘While it comes as no surprise that [SFO director] David Green's highly ambitious programme of investigations and prosecutions has this price tag attached to it, it is worrying that with just two months of the financial year remaining the SFO has discovered such an urgent need for money to settle its current liabilities that it cannot wait for parliamentary approval and has had to draw more than half the money from the Treasury's emergency contingencies fund.

‘Most businesses in the private sector that ran their affairs in this way would be in deep trouble.'