The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) continues to promote itself as a tough prosecution agency, although recently it recognised that deferred prosecution agreements are an appropriate prosecutorial tool – provided that it is in the public interest to do so and the corporate body has fully cooperated. The SFO remains forthright in tackling serious cases of economic crime; it has been buoyed in recent days by the conviction of Tom Hayes for his part in conspiring to manipulate the yen London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) standard, a prosecution on which many commentators considered that the SFO had staked its reputation. The sentence of 14 years' imprisonment passed in that case was likely intended by the judge as "a message to the world of banking".
In an August 6 2015 interview in The Guardian, SFO Director David Green admitted a "certain professional satisfaction" at the conviction.
In the same interview, Green reiterated that the SFO is continuing to move towards concluding a number of its investigations by the adoption of the United Kingdom's first deferred prosecution agreements. He indicated that the SFO expects to have completed two such resolutions by the end of 2015 and noted that, while there is a high hurdle to be overcome before a corporate can obtain a deferred prosecution agreement, it would be difficult to see how it could be in the public interest to prosecute a corporate that had self-reported to the SFO.
Green also spoke out against suggestions that uncertainty remains over the SFO's future. Referring to proposals made in October 2014 by Home Secretary Theresa May to subsume the SFO within the National Crime Agency, Green explained that, while it would be a matter for ministers to determine the organisation's future, he would continue to make a case for the SFO to remain independent.
Although uncertainty remains over the long-term future of the SFO, its director appears to be in no doubt as to the direction in which he wishes it to travel under his leadership.
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