James Sunderland highlights recent failures and High Court criticism of the Serious Fraud Office and calls on the Government to ensure the report of Sir David Calvert-Smith’s review into the SFO’s handling of the Unaoil case is published in full.
6. What assessment she has made of the Serious Fraud Office’s ability to tackle serious economic crime in 2022-23. (900266)
In the past five years, the Serious Fraud Office has secured reparations for criminal behaviour from organisations it has investigated totalling over £1.3 billion. That sum is over and above the cost of running the SFO itself. In addition to recent convictions leading to fines and confiscation orders totalling more than £100 million, just this week Glencore Energy has indicated that it intends to plead guilty to seven bribery counts brought by the SFO in relation to its oil operations in Africa.
The Solicitor General will be aware that the Serious Fraud Office has recently suffered a series of humiliating defeats in the courts and received heavy criticism from judges, not least in the ENRC case last week, in which the High Court criticised a former SFO director for
“gross and deliberate breach of duty”.
Given that the taxpayer now faces a significant bill, will my hon. and learned Friend ensure that the report commissioned from Sir David Calvert-Smith is published in full so that this House can consider his recommendations?
My hon. Friend has raised two points: ENRC and the Sir David Calvert-Smith review. Those are, of course, separate matters, because the Unaoil matter is distinct. In respect of ENRC’s civil case against the SFO, it is important to note that the judge found against ENRC on the overwhelming majority of its allegations against the SFO. My hon. Friend is correct about the review being led by Sir David Calvert-Smith, which is focusing on the findings of the Court of Appeal in the Unaoil case. The Attorney General has committed to publishing the findings of the review, and I am happy to restate that commitment today.