The Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) yesterday concluded that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction in the case against Victor Dahdaleh, and accordingly offered no evidence against the defendant at Southwark Crown Court on 10 December.

Victor Michael Phillip Dahdaleh, an international businessman, was arrested in October 2011 and charged with corruption offences relating to contracts for the supply of aluminium to Bahrain.

The Serious Fraud Office issued a press release explaining its principal reasons for abandoning the case which were two-fold:

  • The account given in court by a key witness for the prosecution, who had pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to corrupt, differed markedly from the witness statement he had provided to the SFO.
  • Two key witnesses, both US lawyers, were unwilling to attend trial in the UK and face cross-examination. The SFO stated that this impacted on the fairness of the trial as well as the prospects of conviction.

As a result, the SFO offered no evidence against Victor Dahdaleh, having concluded that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.

According to International Business Times the SFO has said “it would examine the circumstances that led to the collapse of a major corruption trial, in a bid to restore confidence in its ability to handle high-profile cross-border cases”

Clearly this development is a serious blow for the SFO just when it was beginning to re-establish its credibility under the stewardship of David Green QC. There will now no doubt be heavy criticism levied at the SFO in relation to this episode and its future will now be under increased scrutiny again.