Director of the SFO, David Green QC, has spoken out on two matters over the past few days.
First, in an interview for the New York Times, he re-affirmed the tough stance which his office is taking with regard to serious fraud and corruption.
He said that it was his job to revive confidence in his office and that one of the ways he intended to achieve this was through the investigation being carried out by the SFO into the Libor case.
The public, he said, had to be confident that white collar criminals were dealt with as such and “not given some special rosy path with a cop-out sentence at the end of the day”.
He further stressed that his office was not there to provide guidance or strike deals with defendants, adding “I am here to prosecute”.
Secondly, it was reported by the Financial Times that at a conference organised by law firm Baker & McKenzie, Mr Green had addressed the concept of corporate liability for theft and fraud.
He supports the idea that the principle of corporate responsibility embodied in section 7 of the UK Bribery Act should be extended to cover cases where theft or fraud had been committed by a company’s employees or agents.
Under section 7 a company may be convicted of failing to prevent bribery where an associated party commits bribery for the benefit of the organisation and where the company’s anti-bribery procedures were inadequate.
Extending this principle to cover other forms of criminality would surmount the difficulties faced by prosecutors under the current law, which requires evidence of participation by a senior figure (‘directing mind’) in order to establish corporate liability.
While such an extension of the ‘section 7’ principle would place an increased compliance burden on commercial organisations, it would be likely to receive wide public support.