Reporting serious fraud, bribery and corruption
There are many law enforcement agencies and other public authorities involved in fighting serious crime. We want to ensure your report is received by the authority that is best placed to handle your information.
Which describes you best:*
If you have been a victim of personal fraud or cybercrime that does not fall within the remit of the Serious Fraud Office or other specialist agencies, you should contact Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for these crimes. You can report fraud or cybercrime at any time of the day or night on their website or on 0300 123 2040. Action Fraud can give you a police crime reference number as well as offering help and advice on crime prevention.
Serious or complex fraud, including bribery and corruption
The SFO is a relatively small, highly specialised government department and takes on a small number of large economic crime cases each year.
In considering whether to open an investigation the Director of the SFO will take into account the actual or intended harm that may be caused to:
- the public, or
- the reputation and integrity of the UK as an international financial centre, or
- the economy and prosperity of the UK
and whether the complexity and nature of the suspected offence warrants the application of the SFO’s specialist skills, powers and capabilities to investigate and prosecute.
The types of cases which the Director accepts for investigation often:
- Involve conduct and/or evidence located in a number of jurisdictions;
- Involve alleged criminals who go to great lengths to hide their activity and the money they make from it;
- Require analysis of very large quantities of information; and/or
- Take longer than normal criminal cases to investigate and prosecute.
Making a Report
If you have information about the kind of crime which the SFO investigates, we want to hear from you. We can only act on your concerns if you tell us about them.
You may be nervous about reporting information to us so we’d like to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible by understanding the process and what we may do with that information.
How we handle your information
Our information recording system is purpose built for receiving and storing sensitive information. Any information you send us through our website is encrypted immediately.
Our general data handling information is available here.
What happens when you contact us
Your report will be carefully considered by a dedicated team within the Intelligence Division.
Due to the number of reports the SFO receives, we may not provide an individual response for all reports. If you have not been contacted within 20 working days, please assume that your allegation(s) or complaint(s) did not meet the statutory remit of the SFO. In this instance, we suggest that you consider taking up your concerns with Action Fraud.
The team will ask you questions if they require further information or details to understand your concerns and to properly assess whether the matter may fall within the types of cases that the SFO investigates or is relevant to an existing investigation. Where appropriate, the team will also look to obtain other relevant information available to us from other lines of inquiry. We are unlikely to be able to provide you with exact timings on when our review of your report will be finalised. We are often limited in relation to providing specific updates on your case whilst inquiries remain outstanding. Each matter is different and so the time it takes to assess each case will vary.
If we have engaged with you directly, once a decision has been made in respect of your matter, we will update you where it is practical to do so and where we can do so without compromising future law enforcement or other government agency activity. This update may also be limited if there is other confidential or sensitive information needing protection or legal restrictions are in place.
Please note we are unable to provide you with legal advice or guidance.
Whistleblowing is when a worker or former reports suspected wrongdoing at work. If you suspect wrongdoing in your workplace, you should consider following the whistleblowing procedures in your own organization.
We understand that whistleblowers are often concerned about the legal protections available to them if they report the matter either internally or to an external body such as the SFO. We are unable to provide specific legal advice or intervene in relation to employment matters. However, there are a number of organisations or people who may be able to support you including:
- Protect an independent charity for whistleblowers
- Trade unions or bodies
- Citizens Advice
- An independent legal advisor.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) provides certain employment law protections for whistleblowers against negative treatment or unfair dismissal by their employer. There are certain qualifying conditions relating to the subject matter of the disclosure, the motivation and beliefs of the worker and the person(s) to whom the disclosure is made. You may wish to take advice on whether your report would fall to be a “protected disclosure” and/or review the information on the UK Gov website which explains the criteria.
The SFO is a prescribed body for the purposes of PIDA in relation to reports of serious or complex fraud, including bribery and corruption, in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and civil recovery of the proceeds of unlawful conduct. This means that a whistleblower reporting these matters to the SFO could qualify for these employment law protections.
Reports by whistleblowers will be directed to specialist handlers who will assess the matters being reported and the need for confidentiality (see below).
The SFO does not ordinarily intervene in matters of employment relations or participate in Tribunal proceedings. However, all disclosures are logged. We may be able to provide confirmation that a report has been received if requested by a whistleblower them self, however it is important to note that confidentiality would therefore not be possible in those circumstances.
Protecting your identity & sharing information
When you contact the SFO to report serious fraud, bribery or corruption, it helps us to have your name, address and contact details – without it, it makes it more difficult to assess your report or contact you for further information. However you do not have to give us information about yourself and you may keep your identity anonymous. Please take note of the unique reference number supplied when you submit your report and quote this number in any future contact. We prefer to use a secure email service for communications but we are happy to use alternatives if appropriate.
There are times when the SFO may decide to pass on the information you have given us, where there are legal, regulatory or operational reasons to do so. For example, we regularly share information with the police, other law enforcement agencies, local authorities or other government departments.
Whether you are a whistleblower or a confidential reporter, we do not disclose the identity of individuals providing us with information unless you have given your consent. If we do not have your consent, we will ensure that any report sharing your information does not identify you or the fact it has come from a whistleblower or confidential reporter.
You will be given an opportunity on the form to indicate if you agree for your personal details to be disclosed to other authorities, along with your information. If you do not give consent, it is important to note that there are rare situations where we may need to disclose your identity. For example, a judge may order us to disclose the information as part of court proceedings. If this rare situation were to arise then, before disclosing your identity, we would consider available options and consult with you where it is reasonable to do so. It remains within our discretion to disclose (or not) after taking into account all the circumstances but in particular the need for sensitivity concerning your identity.
Secure Reporting Form
Other criminal activity
Contact your local police force to report instances of non-financial crime, such as illegal immigration, drug-related offences or violent crime.
In an emergency, call 999.