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White collar crime prosecutions fall although offences are up

Member: Nifa

Recent research shows that the number of white collar crime prosecutions in the UK fell by 12 per cent between 2015 and 2016, even though there was a four per cent increase in the number of reported offences.

In fact, the number of prosecutions has fallen by 26 per cent since 2011, when there were 11,261 prosecutions.  However, in the past five years, the number of reported crimes has risen nearly four-fold, from 142,991 to 641,539 last year.

When prosecutions are brought, they can have spectacular results, as seen after the four-year investigation into bribery and corruption at Rolls-Royce, which resulted in a record-breaking £497.2 million deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) this January.

The DPA was the third achieved by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which investigates large corporate crime, and was a much-needed boost to the beleaguered agency, which has suffered a string of high profile and embarrassing failures.

According to the prosecution, Rolls-Royce had indulged in “systematic bribery” over 25 years, paying millions of pounds to help secure major contracts across the globe, including in countries such as India, Thailand and Indonesia.  As with many such cases, the £13m investigation began after a former executive turned whistleblower over the firm’s business in Indonesia.

The SFO was made aware of the allegations in early 2012 and asked Rolls-Royce to investigate.

By 2013, after a painstaking and complex investigation of documents, accounts and interviews, which involved more than 70 members of the agency’s own staff, the SFO was praising Rolls-Royce’s “full and extraordinary co-operation” throughout the investigation and accepted the DPA.

In cases such as these, the careful eye of a forensic accountant can have a huge benefit for all of the parties involved and can help a business to defend its case or assist investigators when assessing a business’s finances.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 5 September 2017

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