Policy and practice

UK: SFO requests 75% increase in funding while defending current funding model

​It has been reported that the SFO has requested an increase in its funding of 75%, or £26.5m, on top of its annual budget of £32.2m to fund specific "blockbuster" investigations such as Libor, Barclays/Qatar and Rolls-Royce and pay for the £4.5m settlement to the Tchenquiz brothers agreed earlier this year. Last year, the SFO requested an additional £24m on top of its annual budget. The SFO's funding has been sharply reduced in recent years. The continued requests by the agency for increased funding have led to criticism that the cuts were too severe.

Speaking at Pinsent Masons' Regulatory Conference on 23 October 2014, director David Green commented that "[t]his is an important, if not a pivotal time for the SFO." He confirmed the current method of funding for the SFO and repeated that no case would be turned down through lack of resources. He also reiterated his opinion that the SFO should not be subsumed into the National Crime Agency, as has been suggested recently, highlighting the need for a "visibly independent investigator and prosecutor" in fraud and corruption cases and arguing that that was "crucial to judicial confidence, to business confidence in London as a level playing field, and to public confidence in the investigation and prosecution of major economic crime involving our flagship enterprises." Home Secretary Theresa May is reported to be considering plans to abolish the SFO, sending its investigation team to join the National Crime Agency and assigning its prosecutors to the UK's Crown Prosecution Service. The plan is opposed by many commentators and lawyers in the field, who argue that having investigators and prosecutors working together strengthens their position.

David Green's speech is available here.