The warning was made by SFO director Rosalind Wright after she revealed that the level of fraudulent activity had risen substantially during the year.
Speaking at an Institute for International Research conference in London today, Wright said her office was currently investigating 76 cases of suspected fraud with Pounds 2.5bn at risk, almost double the Pounds 1.4bn at risk in last year’s inquiries.
conservative estimates put the economic cost to the UK through such crimes at between Pounds 6.7bn and Pounds 13.8bn annually.
Following the unveiling yesterday of the emergency Anti-Terrorist Bill with tough proposals to fight terrorist financing, Wright said the current climate of global terrorism would see fraud and money laundering move up the criminal justice and regulatory agenda.
She said the crackdown on terrorist-related financial manipulation would inevitably ‘make life more difficult for the “home-grown” financial criminal’.
According to the Wright, fraudsters now faced the possibility of being tried by a professional tribunal instead of a lay jury if recently published recommendations are implemented.
She added that during an economic downturn there was an increase in fraud by directors ‘milking assets before the receivers move in’, while in better times when there is more confidence and cash, there was an increase in investment fraud.
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