Of roughly 2,500 possible fraud or corruption reports received in 2014 through its whistleblower service, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launched only 12 investigations, a number that's sent minor shock waves throughout the industry, online news sources reveal.
Budgetary constraints might be the cause of so few active investigations. This year, the SFO received about two-thirds of the funding it was allotted in 2008, and insufficient resources translate into similarly insufficient follow through on fraud investigation.
Adrian Palmer, managing partner at Proven Legal Technologies, shared a broader perspective on the matter in an email to SCMagazineUK.com:
“These figures are concerning, but not surprising. When the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) wishes to pursue a case, it will often require the target organisation to provide a very wide corpus of documents under an s.2 notice. In our experience, the detailed criteria included in these notices have often been ill-judged, as they would result in an avalanche of documents that both the target company and the SFO would need to read. This is a serious undertaking and comes at a huge cost, unless the target's legal team is able to convince the SFO to change its position by providing clear evidence through relevant documents and statistics.
“The real concern, therefore, is the resource – or lack thereof – that the SFO has to deal with these matters,” Palmer continued. “It is a positive step that people are coming forward to provide leads, but the SFO will need both increased funding and efficiency if these crimes are to be brought to light and tackled effectively.”