Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
The SFO’s powers of investigation are much broader than the ordinary powers of investigation given to the police. Cases prosecuted by the SFO can take a long time to conclude and it is essential that you get the correct advice from a specialist fraud lawyer from an early stage. You should make sure that your criminal lawyer has the time, energy and expertise to handle your case.
POWERS OF INVESTIGATION
In addition to its normal powers conferred by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, under section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 the SFO can require a person under investigation to answer questions or otherwise furnish information, including documents (except those protected by legal professional privilege) to SFO investigators.
If any person under investigation, who without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with a requirement imposed on him by section 2, he is guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine or both.
Furthermore, under section 14 of the Act, if an individual who, in purported compliance with section 2 either:
- makes a statement which he knows to be false or misleading; or
- recklessly makes a statement which is false or misleading.
They are also guilty of an offence and on conviction could receive a term of imprisonment of up to 2 years or a fine or both.
Any statements that a person under investigation makes under these powers can only be used in evidence against him at a subsequent criminal trial in the following circumstances:
- on a prosecution for an offence for making false or misleading statements under section 14; or
- on a prosecution for some other offence, the person being investigated himself introduces evidence at trial which is inconsistent with what he has previously said to investigators.
Given the complexity of the law when being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office it is imperative that you contact a specialist criminal defence solicitor immediately on being notified of the investigation.
At Old Bailey Solicitors we have extensive experience of defending clients who are accused of complex fraud. We can represent you at any stage of an investigation brought by the SFO and will aggressively defend your position from the start.