SFO Tells Corporations How to Cooperate in Ongoing Investigations
08 Aug 2019

Companies facing potential prosecutions by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) should organize related financial records for investigators, identify relevant witnesses and waive pertinent legal privileges, according to new agency guidance. 

The recommendations, published Tuesday, outline how corporations can cooperate with the SFO ahead of any decision to prosecute the firms or enter into a deferred prosecution agreement. The office investigates high-level corruption, bribery and fraud in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

“Co-operation means providing assistance to the SFO that goes above and beyond what the law requires,” the office said. Such steps can include identifying criminal conduct and those responsible for it, and preserving evidence in a format that is helpful to law enforcement officials, according to the guidance. 

Companies should identify any money flows related to an investigation and provide related documents in a “structured way, including bank records, invoices, money transfers, contracts, accounting records and similar documents,” according to the SFO, which also requested that the firms alert the office to financial records that they cannot access. 

Should a witness be relevant to an investigation, a business can cooperate by naming the person and providing any additional material pertinent to the case, such as recordings, notes and transcripts, the SFO said. 

“It is important that organisations seeking to cooperate understand that co-operation—even full, robust co-operation—does not guarantee any particular outcome,” the office said. “Each case will turn on its own facts.” 

Read the 5-page guidance here

Photo: SFO © Crown copyright

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