SFO chief faces fresh round of criticism

Anti-corruption pressure groups have written to the new head of the Serious
Fraud Office expressing concern that departure of a key member of staff will
leave the body short of expertise and leadership on overseas corruption,
according to the Financial Times today.

The letter comes amid concerns that Richard Alderman’s new strategy for the
SFO will take the body in a direction towards public education, consumer frauds
and civil court asset seizures while moving away from big ticket corporate fraud

Little more two weeks ago the SFO announced the departures of a third of its
senior management.

The FT reports unnamed sources expressing concern that the shift in tack is a
precursor to the SFO being wound up or merged with another body like the Serious
Organised Crime Agency.

In May Alderman defended his position in Accountancy Age. He wrote: ‘The SFO
needs to go beyond a traditional reactive approach and reach out into society to
share our knowledge and experience.

‘What does this involve? It means getting out into businesses and schools and
to educate people about fraud risks and warning-signs.

‘It means collaborating with law enforcement authorities via the National
Fraud Strategic Authority.

‘And it also means building closer relationships with intermediaries such as
the accountancy institutes to align our approaches, mount joint initiatives and
communicate more actively.’

Before that Accountancy Age reported the former SFO chief Ros Wright heavily
criticising the change in tack.

‘To say he is going to tackle consumer fraud is not what the SFO is there for
as there are other organisations such as the Office of Fair Trading and trading
standards set up to do this,’ she said.

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