A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:
At a time of sharp reductions in public spending affecting essential services, I am astonished to discover the former SFO Chief Executive Officer pocketed a £15,000 'special severance payment' when she stepped down in April 2012.
The CEO and SFO sealed the terms of this sweetheart deal outside of official Treasury procedures. Despite now believing this payment to be irregular, the SFO is unable to cancel it or claw back the cash.
The SFO showed a total disregard for taxpayers' money when they wrote out a five-figure cheque to the CEO and failed to provide valid justification for the payment. The SFO also ignored Cabinet Office rules when signing off £407,000 worth of pension entitlements. My committee will want to see an immediate stop to unacceptable payments of this kind and for the SFO to ensure all future packages for those leaving the organisation are properly approved.