The money will please SFO director Robert Wardle, who told Accountancy Age in March that the fraudbuster could always do with more funds.
Home Office minister Baroness Scotland today released a consultation paper proposing an overhaul of the fraud laws, simplifying them to better equip police and prosecutors to deal with current crimes.
The government believes the current laws focus on specific frauds and do not adequately tackle the wide range of possible fraudulent activity or keep pace with rapidly developing technology.
The Green Paper proposes a general offence of fraud, which could be committed in three ways – by false representation, by wrongfully failing to disclose information and by abuse of position.
Baroness Scotland said: ‘Fraud costs the UK economy £14bn a year so it is vital we tackle this problem effectively. But the current laws do not cover the wide range of frauds, which can be committed and it is too easy for defendants to escape justice because of legal loopholes.
‘Modern criminals are also increasingly sophisticated and use technology to commit frauds. For example, buying services over the internet could be subject to fraud because of a deficiency in the current law.
‘Our proposals respond to these challenges. We are aiming to create laws which are responsive to the society we live in and are effective so they build victims’ confidence that the criminal justice system is on their side. Our proposals would overhaul the law to simplify it, cast its net wider and make it easier to secure just convictions.
‘I want to hear from the public, law enforcers, legal practitioners and businesses about our proposals. I encourage people to take part in this consultation which will have a bearing on any future Fraud Bill we publish.’
The proposals are part of several initiatives which the government is undertaking to tackle fraud, including:
- the introduction of a draft bill on identity cards which will help tackle identity fraud – a crime which costs £1.3bn annually;
- giving the Serious Fraud Office and City of London Police extra money to tackle fraud;
- supporting financial institutions and the retail industry with their introduction of the chip-and-PIN system for plastic cards
- setting up the Assets Recovery Agency and implementing the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. These will take the profit out of crime by increasing powers to find and recover money from those who benefit from and launder the proceeds of frauds and other crimes; and
- producing an over-arching strategy for beating organised crime.
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