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Lack of SFO investigations raises concern over insufficient funding

The Serious Fraud Office launched just 12 new investigations in 2013/14 despite receiving thousands of tip-offs from whistleblowers.

Figures obtained by law firm Pinsent Masons show the SFO opened 12 investigations in the year ending 31 March 2014. However, it received 2,508 reports of suspected fraud or corruption via its whistleblower service in the year ending 30 June 2014.

The whistleblower service, called SFO Confidential, was established in 2011 to provide anyone who suspected serious fraud or corruption with a clear point of contact.

Pinsent Masons partner Barry Vitou says the data raises concerns about the SFO’s resources.

He says: “It is surprising that so few whistleblower reports have translated into SFO investigations.

“Obviously not all reports will contain sufficient information to justify a full investigation but the data does suggest that the SFO may lack the resources to pursue all the leads on criminal cases that are available and that it is having to prioritise cases.

“Funding problems mean it is unlikely that the SFO is able to carry out comprehensive checks on all information received. It is possible that very large numbers of credible cases could effectively be being shelved.”

Last month, data obtained by Pinsent Masons showed the number of whistleblowing reports received by the FCA increased by 44 per cent last year. The FCA opened 1,367 cases in 2014, up from 948 in 2013.

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