The Justice Committee draws attention to extra £19 Million funding for the Serious Fraud Office
The Serious Fraud Office has submitted a Supplementary Estimate, or request to the House of Commons for additional resource, of £19 million for the financial year 2013–14. The Justice Committee today publishes a short report drawing the attention of the House to this Estimate, which amounts to over 50% of the SFO’s existing budget for the year. On 4 March the House will be asked to approve all Supplementary Estimates which have been submitted by the Government.
Much of the extra money is needed to finance litigations to which the SFO is a party, and large-scale and complex "Blockbuster" criminal investigations which have been launched by the SFO. The Committee makes no comment on these litigations and investigations. The Committee does however conclude that: “The magnitude of the SFO’s request for additional resources …., when considered against the size of the Office’s budget, is a cause of considerable interest for us, and we consider that the Supplementary, and the funding arrangements for so-called Blockbuster cases which underlie it, are matters which should be drawn to the attention of the House.”
Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP, the Chair of the Committee, said:
“When a public body lays a Supplementary Estimate amounting to more than half of its annual budget, that is a matter which requires full explanation, and it is the job of select committees like the Justice Committee to obtain that full explanation before Parliament votes through the money. In this case the Director of the Serious Fraud Office has provided us with further information in response to our request, and we have published that information, except where we agree with the SFO that its publication might prejudice litigations or criminal investigations. The Committee will be exploring with the Attorney General the question of whether the SFO’s funding model is viable in the longer term.”
The Committee received a memorandum from the Serious Fraud Office on the reasons for the extra funding when the Supplementary was laid, and followed this up by writing for further information, which was received in a letter from the Director of the SFO, David Green CB QC. This material is published along with the Committee’s report, with some agreed redactions to avoid compromising litigations or investigations in which the SFO is involved.