Times photographer Richard Pohle
Theresa May’s long-waged campaign to bring Britain’s fraud investigators under the umbrella of the country’s national police force is likely to expire on the altar of political expediency.
David Green, QC, director of the Serious Fraud Office, said yesterday that an announcement was “imminent” on the relationship between his organisation and the National Crime Agency and that he was “relaxed” about the position. Green has strongly opposed moves to bring his organisation under the ambit of the NCA – often described as Britain’s FBI – in the face of a concerted effort by May as both home secretary and prime minister.
At a meeting of City of London lawyers Green gave a strong hint that the prime minister would have to permanently shelve her desire for a takeover of the 30-year-old SFO by the NCA, which was launched in 2013. He said it was important that the SFO had “a level of consistency”.
The director was less sanguine over the SFO’s constant battles for funding. He reiterated that the current situation, in which the office’s basic budget is topped up with “blockbuster funding” for special investigations, was not ideal. “There are definitely problems with the block-buster model,” Green said.
However, he went on to deny suggestions that the being forced to go cap in hand to the government for one-off investigation financing effectively handed the Treasury a veto over specific cases. “There has not been a sniff of that in my time in the job,” he said.
Rolls Royce ‘did not get special treatment’ in prosecution deal
Green rejected suggestions yesterday that Rolls-Royce was offered a £500 million deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) when the multinational company had not met the criteria for self-reporting instances of bribery.
David Green said his team had received “extraordinary” co-operation from Rolls-Royce management when investigating bribery and corruption involving the aerospace business in seven international jurisdictions. Responding to claims that the SFO had bent its rules regarding DPAs for the company, which only put its hand up after being questioned by investigators, Mr Green said that the court had accepted that “the level of co-operation from management put Rolls Royce in the position of a company that had self-reported”.