Mammoth SFO cases prompt agency to ask for extra cash

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has, for the second timethis year, gone cap-in-hand to the Government askingfor more cash.

The request for an extra £26.5m in “blockbuster funding”follows an appeal for £19m extra earlier this year. The calls are prompted by araft of mammoth, expensive cases and the fact that the SFO’s budget has beenslashed from £53.3m to £30.8m since 2008/09.

This year, the SFO has paid out £3m in settlements and £3min costs to settle its battle with VincentTchenguiz following his arrest and detention in 2011 after a failed investigation.Days later the agency also settled with Vincent’sbrother Robert for £1.5m.

Meanwhile the end of last year and the beginning of 2014was dominated by the SFO’s battles with businessman Victor Dahdaleh. The $67mcorruption case collapsedin December amid questions over the roles played by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer& Feld and Allen & Overy during the SFO’s investigation of allegationsthat A&O client Dahdaleh had paid bribes to Akin Gump’s client AluminiumBahrain to secure contracts.

The SFO was later roundly criticised by Crown Court judgeNicholas Loraine-Smith, who accused the agency of mismanagement in a March2014 hearing.

Other cases on the SFO’s plate right now include investigationsinto Libor riggings, alleged corruption in Rolls Royce and into Barclays forthe way it raisedfunds from Middle Eastern investors during the 2008 banking crisis.

Director David Green QC says the agency will never rejectan investigation on costs grounds. If its cases continue to be as weighty asthey currently are, the begging bowl may need to come out again in the future.

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