Serious Fraud Office to be scrapped under Conservatives

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The Serious Fraud Office will be scrapped if the Conservatives win the general election, according to the party’s manifesto.

The function of the SFO would be picked up by the National Crime Agency if the Conservatives win.

The manifesto says: “We will help Britain’s world-leading police forces and prosecutorial services to fight crime, protect the public and provide security for businesses.

“We will strengthen Britain’s response to white-collar crime by incorporating the Serious Fraud Office into the National Crime Agency, improving intelligence-sharing and bolstering the investigation of serious fraud, money laundering and financial crime.”

But some say closing the SFO would remove a specialised and sophisticated weapon in the fight against UK fraud.

Transparency International UK said the move would be a “backwards step in the fight against corruption”.

Transparency International UK executive director Robert Barrington says: “The complex, cross-border nature of corporate corruption is best tackled by a specialist agency like the SFO.

“The SFO has had increasing success in recent years; previous plans to abolish it have been discredited, and it is both astonishing and of real concern to see this surface again.”

The SFO investigates and prosecutes complex fraud, often white-collar cases.

Recent high-profile SFO successes include a £129m fine against Tesco for overstating profits in a trading statement and a fine of $25.2m against Standard Bank for breaking anti-bribery rules.