George Staple, the former director of the Serious Fraud Office and now a Clifford Chance partner, has called for a global extradition scheme to fight global crime.
Current extradition procedures are still mainly dependent on bilateral arrangements deriving from nineteenth century treaties, he said at a London conference on global crime last week.
“So many legal systems have now incorporated universally recognised safeguards of human rights, that countries' reluctance to extradite their own nationals to face trial abroad is becoming increasingly untenable. We need a fresh and bolder approach on a global scale. Global schemes have been successful in other areas such as aviation and shipping. Why not a global scheme on extradition?”
He said the success of the UK's National Criminal Intelligence Service in securing reports of suspected money laundering transactions (16,000 a year) simply meant criminals were taking their money to less demanding regimes.
He also called for “an international treaty to compel witnesses to give evidence to the court live by satellite”.
Staple's proposals have coincided with the publication of two separate surveys of fraud inside companies.
One, by Ernst & Young, which received responses from 1,205 senior company executives in 24 countries worldwide, found that one third who had suspected fraud turned first to either in-house or private practice lawyers; another third preferred to suspend the employee immediately.
Seventy-two per cent of respondents agreed that money laundering controls had done little more than inhibit the savings of small-time criminals and divert funds to unscrupulous countries without proper laws of enforcement. It also found that 84 per cent of the worst frauds were committed by companies' own employees.
A survey of UK company finance directors by accountants Neville Russell found that nearly 40 per cent said they would not report a fraud to the authorities – the police, an industry regulator or a professional body – because they did not want it to become public knowledge.