Responding to allegations of economic crime: As important today as it’s always been

It is sometimes difficult to remember a time when the Government implemented measures other that those relating to Covid–19. The Government has placed Regulations before Parliament almost every day since the Spring.

However on 8th October this year Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) offered her perspective on the future challenges in investigating economic crime and in doing so reminded us that it has been two years since the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) was established, which involved domestic law enforcement partners, the private sector and the Government coming together under one roof as part of a joined up approach.

The Government even published a plan to deal with the financial and social ill effects of economic crime, known as (perhaps not surprisingly) the Economic Crime Plan, which mapped out the UK's future response to so called economic predators by requiring joint action by the public and private sectors.

Lisa Osofsky was frank in saying that the SFO faces many challenges in its work to combat bribery and corruption, not least amassing the human resources to review cases involving tens of thousands of messages on WhatsApp and tens of thousands of e-mails. This is a task made all the more difficult perhaps because of the many new avenues for securing illegal economic advantage created by a global pandemic; from the supply of fake testing kits and PPE to so called 'furlough fraud'. 

The SFO is understandably proud of its support for the NECC and the work it has done in recent years. Whilst there are plainly going to be challenges for any enforcement organisation operating in the 21st century, this was a timely reminder of the apparatus and infrastructure that are in place to detect and investigate alleged securing of illegal economic advantage and that, perhaps rather like Covid-19, the enforcement agencies are not going away any time soon. The need to understand the approach taken by regulatory bodies (including the complexities of such operations) and formulate a suitably robust plan to deal with such a scenario is as important today as it has always been.

The full speech can be found here.

If you would like to discuss considerations, including when responding, in more detail please contact Tim, or any members of Foot Anstey's specialist Fraud team.

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