On 5 September, Director of the SFO, Lisa Osofsky delivered a key note speech to the 39th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime.
The speech, which can be read here, described the "great progress" that has been made since her five-year tenure began in 2018 and the notable successes. These include deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) involving Airbus and Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited as well as convictions secured against Petrofac Limited and Glencore.
"We have also made some mistakes".
The glaring omission in the speech was the acknowledgment of the SFO failings in the handling of the Unaoil case, where the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of Ziad Akle in December 2021 because of serious disclosure failures. Mr Akle had been convicted of two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in connection with the bribing of decision-makers to win crude oil contracts in Iraq. He had been sentenced to five years' imprisonment.
The Court was also critical of the unorthodox practices conducted by the most senior management of the SFO in engaging with a 'fixer'. The SFO failings meant that Mr Akle did not have a fair trial.
The then Attorney General appointed Sir David Calvert-Smith to lead a 'forensic and robust' review into SFO failings and his independent review was published on 21 July 2022. Please click here to listen to our podcast on the review.
In the Unaoil case, Paul Bond and Stephen Whitely also had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal.
The review of Brian Altman QC into the collapse of the R v Woods and Marshall trial (Serco) was also published on 21 July 2022. Two senior managers at Serco charged with defrauding the Ministry of Justice were acquitted after the SFO failed to make adequate disclosure of documents to the defence.
On 12 September, the government revealed that the two damning reviews into the SFO disclosure failures have cost the taxpayer almost £450,000.
The response of the Director to the catastrophic disclosure failings - to seek a change in the disclosure regime!
The Director's five-year term ends in August 2023.
Two damning reviews into serious disclosure failures by the Serious Fraud Office have cost the taxpayer nearly £450,000, the government has revealed.