Fraud – Police given more powers

The Home Office is set to give police new powers that will aid fraud investigations overseas as part of the government crackdown on financial crime.

Accountancy Age has learned ministers are prepared to ‘activate’ dormant provisions in Section One of the Criminal Justice Act 1993 allowing police to pass on banking and other financial details of alleged criminals to police forces in other countries.

The move would also allow overseas police forces to pass on financial information about people under investigation by the UK police. Currently, only the Serious Fraud Office can obtain financial information in this way.

One senior police source said: ‘The legislation is already there. It was never fully enacted in 1993 and all it needs now is to go through the committee stage. It should be activated by the autumn.’

The measures were blocked initially by judges who were concerned information obtained using court orders could be misused.

But the police have been seriously hampered in recent investigations, including the Maxwell trial, in their pursuit of vital financial evidence, and this has forced a change in policy.

The Home Office confirmed part of Section One of the Act must be made law to comply with the EU convention on fraud, but said no decision had been taken on whether the police could share financial information.

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