SFO - Serious Fraud Office
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International collaboration

Our International Assistance team deals with requests for assistance from overseas courts and prosecutors. We have assisted many overseas authorities for a number of years.

Incoming requests 2003 - 2009

 

03-04

04-05

05-06

06-07

07-08

08-09

09-10 10-11 11-12

Countries assisted

30

31

23

24

30

41

45 45 30

New requests referred

30

35

41

53

45

55

48 40 45

 

Examples of our work

  • Press Release of 30 June 2009 relating to SFO restraint of $100M in relation to Allen Stanford
  • Press Release of 9 July 2009 relating to the embezzlement of €430M from humanitarian projects in Uganda

What can we do to assist you?

In cases of serious or complex fraud, overseas prosecutors and investigators may ask for our assistance to obtain information in the United Kingdom. Our powers allow us to obtain documents, interview witnesses (but not under oath) and restrain assets.

What powers do we have to help?

We have compulsory powers, under section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987, which enable us to:

  • require any person (or company/bank) to provide us with any relevant documents, including confidential documents. Note, however, that we cannot use Section 2 to obtain documents to which legal professional privilege attaches. A lawyer can, however, be required to give the name and address of his client.
  • require any person to answer any relevant questions, including questions about confidential matters. The same position regarding legal professional privilege applies.

We normally use these powers by serving a notice on the person concerned. The notice states a date by which the action should be carried out. However, if necessary, a Section 2 notice can require immediate action.

If a person fails to comply, if it is not possible to serve a notice, or if we have reasonable grounds to believe that serving a notice would seriously prejudice the investigation, we may apply to a court for a warrant to search their house or business premises and seize the documents. However, before granting a search warrant, the magistrate needs to be satisfied that we have considered all other ways of obtaining the material. This means that your request must set out the facts in such a way that the conclusion is that a search warrant is the only way to recover the documents. A search warrant cannot authorise the seizure of documents covered by legal privilege.

Who may ask for assistance?

The United Kingdom accepts requests for assistance from overseas criminal courts or tribunals, overseas prosecutors, or any other overseas authority which makes requests for assistance in criminal cases.

Who can we not help?

If you live abroad, or have been defrauded by people overseas, you need to contact the law enforcement agency where the fraud occurred for help.

Obtaining evidence from the UK

For more information, see our Guide to obtaining evidence from the UK