OSS and SFO in staff swap

Shaun Pye reports from the Institute of Barristers' Clerks conference. The Serious Fraud Office is understood to have agreed in principle to second two of its investigators to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS), in exchange for two senior OSS staff.

The move will strengthen ties between the two organisations which have already worked closely together on a number of high-profile cases over the past three years.

SFO-style investigation handling will also assist OSS director Peter Ross in his five-year plan to beef up the OSS's ability to police the profession and avoid the threat of the Government taking over regulation of solicitors.

The OSS is currently investigating an alleged multi-million-pound fraud involving five small law firms and misuse of bank loan documents.

The SFO has had a run of major prosecutions which involved lawyers in the past few years and four of its 14 cases completed this year have involved solicitors.

Most notable was that of Charles Deacon, of Charles Deacon & Co, who with two accomplices carried out a series of advance fee frauds totalling £12m.

Deacon was sentenced to nine years jail in January.