SFO goes over budget.
MPs have criticised the Serious Fraud Office for spending above its official limit because of the incorrect accounting treatment of VAT receipts and the unexpected award of costs and damages against it. The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the SFO had misinterpreted the accounting treatment for VAT on contracted out services and failed in 1998/99 to follow Treasury guidance to report sums received rather than sums receivable. The costs and damages – worth £159,628 – were then charged to the wrong account. The SFO, along with the Ministry of Defence, Lord Chancellor’s department and Office for National Statistics – all also criticised for overspending – have been asked to improve their accounting controls.