The new Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), David Green QC, who took office in April this year, has this week made a series of senior appointments.
A senior former judge, two solicitors from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and an investigator from Her Majesty’s Revenue Customs (HMRC) will join the SFO.
The SFO is made up of lawyers, forensic accountants, investigators, computer forensic experts and other related specialist services which enable the SFO both to investigate and subsequently, if appropriate, to prosecute defendants who have committed a serious economic crime.
His Honour Geoffrey Riblin QC is the most high profile of these new appointments. He will act as an adviser to David Green QC. One of his tasks will be to liaise with the Director of the SFO in relation to quality assurance on cases, from the point of an individual being charged with an offence all the way through to the moment that the case goes to trial.
His Honour Judge Riblin QC was called to the bar in 1963 and was made Queen’s Counsel in 1979. He practised in the north eastern circuit between 1963 and 1989 and was a Recorder of the Crown Court between 1978 and 1989. He was a circuit judge from 1989 to 2004 and a senior circuit judge from 2004.
It is believed that this is the first time that a retired judge has been appointed to the SFO. This is a positive step forward for the agency which has suffered considerable bad publicity both this year and in the past, but most recently in relation to the debacle involving the Tchenguiz brothers, upon which we have blogged in the past.
Matthew Wagstaff, who hitherto has been at the CPS, will join the SFO as one of four case division heads, and Kristin Jones, who was previously at the Attorney General’s Office, will become head of policy at the SFO.
Alun Milford, who was previously at the CPS, will become the new general counsel replacing Vivian Robinson QC who left almost one year ago to join our firm, McGuireWoods. Mr Milford previously headed the CPS’s organised crime division (which was established in 2005 in order to provide a one stop shop for investigators from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)) and was directly accountable to the Director of Public Prosecutions. It appears from media reports that his role will be much more inwards looking at what the SFO is actually doing and the cases it is pursuing.
Finally, Kevin Davis has been appointed as the SFO’s chief investigating officer on a two year attachment from HMRC, replacing Keith McCarthy who is now at the accountancy firm, PwC.
In our view, these are excellent if somewhat overdue appointments from the white collar crime legal community.
Mr Green has already demonstrated that he is still able to attract high quality people to the agency, in spite of the recent bad publicity which the agency has attracted over the last year in relation to criticisms from the court relating to the Tchenguiz case, the drastic reduction of the SFO’s budget by the Government (which itself is a consequence of the general public expenditure cut backs and the threat (subsequently withdrawn) by the Government to reverse the SFO into another prosecuting agency.
We at the BriberyLibrary wish the new recruits well in their new appointments and that the SFO regains its mojo!