SFO - Serious Fraud Office
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Section 2 and legislative tools

We use a range of investigation tools.  Our primary investigation powers are those given to us by the Criminal Justice Act (CJA)1987 when we were established.

Section 2 investigation powers

The Serious Fraud Office's statutory powers are:

  • to search property
  • to compel persons to answer questions and produce documents

Section 2 of the CJA 1987 gives the Director or a designated member of staff the power to require a person or entity to provide information to us for the purpose of an investigation.  This takes the form of interviewing people, requiring them to produce material, or searching premises.

We can only use this power if the Director finds reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been committed involving serious or complex fraud or corruption.

Written notice is always given when exercising this power.  Notices are typically issued to individuals, banks, financial institutions, accountants and other professionals, most of whom will have a duty of confidence to their clients.  Issuing them with Section 2 notices obliges them lawfully to give us the information we require.

Where a person or entity does not comply with a notice, or when someone is interviewed and is found to have given false or misleading information, they can be prosecuted.

On 14 July 2008, Section 2A of the CJA 1987 came into force enabling the Director to use Section 2 powers at a 'pre-investigation' stage in relation to overseas bribery and corruption cases.

View Criminal Justice Act 1987 for more information.

Other legislative (investigation and prosecution) tools

Other tools and legislation we use include:

  • Criminal Prosecution: Fraud Act 2006, Theft Act 1968, Companies Act 2006 S 993, and so on
  • Serious Crime Act 2007
  • Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
  • Serious Crime Prevention Orders
  • Financial Reporting Orders
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
  • Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Act 2008 Section 2
  • RIPA