Robert Wardle’s comments come as the government’s lead anti-fraud agency considered whether or not to launch an investigation into Equitable Life, following the release of the Penrose report this week.
His concerns also followed a National Audit Office report released in December 2003, which said the SFO would not meet its targets set for 2003/04 for number of active cases, the time taken to investigate cases and the time taken for prosecution.
Wardle said ‘declining numbers of police officers’ working on SFO cases had had a ‘significant effect’ on all three of these targets.
In recognition of this shortfall, the SFO will receive an extra £7m next year and another £5m the year after, boosting its budget which currently stands at £33.3m for 2003/04.
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