15 May 2014
Fraud Investigation Solicitor Investigates Reasons for Fall in Fraud Cases
On the 12 May 2014 the Financial Times reported that there has been a sharp decline in the number of white collar crime prosecutions. This is despite an increased level of public awareness of these issues.
In 2011 the number of defendants facing prosecutions for white collar crime matters fell from 11,261 in 2011 to 9,700 in 2013. Yet research suggests that the number of frauds reported to the police and other investigating bodies has in fact doubled in the previous financial year.
It is believed that the reduction in the level of prosecutions is as a direct consequence of the decreasing resource’s made available to the Governments investigating bodies such as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
The SFO’s budget has been cut from £52m in 2008 to £32m for 2013/14. This figure is expected to drop further in 2015 as part of the Government’s cost cutting programme. In February this year, the SFO sought £19m emergency funding from the Government, which was the subject of a separate Slater and Gordon update.
The SFO appear to be focusing its energies and resources on a small number of larger high profile cases. It has stated that “Our work which addresses the top end of financial crime has increased since we refocused on a small number of large cases such as Libor and Rolls-Royce. These cases by their nature are lengthy and complex and can take a while to come to fruition. We have mechanisms in place to ensure we progress our cases as quickly as possible.”
These findings add to the debate about how the Government is confronting white collar crime, which costs the UK economy an estimated £80bn a year. The lack of prosecutions, most notably under the Bribery Act 2010, is adding to concerns as to the effectiveness of the UK’s anti-fraud enforcement regime. As we approach the next General Election we can expect an increase in tough political rhetoric. Whether this translates into increased resources and operational efficiency remains to be seen.
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