Annual Report on Whistleblowing Disclosures 2020-21
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) tackles the top tier of serious or complex fraud, bribery and corruption. We investigate and prosecute a small number of large economic crime cases and use our statutory powers to recover the proceeds of such crime. It is our aim to do so fairly and effectively and this includes treating victims, witnesses and whistleblowers with dignity and respect.
The Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is a ‘prescribed person’ for the purpose of whistleblowing legislation and is required to publish an annual report concerning the number of whistleblowing disclosures made by workers about their employers. To meet the criteria for inclusion in the report the disclosure must be a qualifying disclosure. This means:
- the worker reasonably believes that the information disclosed is substantially true and the relevant failure relates to serious or complex fraud (including bribery and corruption), civil recovery of the proceeds of crime, civil recovery investigations or disclosure orders in relation to confiscation investigations; and
- the Director of the SFO reasonably believes that in the reasonable belief of the worker the disclosure is made in the public interest and tends to show a criminal offence, miscarriage of justice or other relevant failure providing that the worker does not breach legal professional privilege or commit an offence by making it.
The SFO’s policy is to treat whistleblowing disclosures in confidence. Those who wish to report wrongdoing relating to matters falling within the SFO’s remit may do so via our online secure portal.
During the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, the SFO Intelligence Division managed 175 whistleblowing disclosures of which 150 were validated as such, qualifying for inclusion in this report. Twenty five (25) disclosures were assessed as not being from a ‘worker’, as defined by section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, and/or “making a disclosure in the public interest”.
- The SFO took action (sent a personalised response, requested further information and/or conducted further enquiries with partner agencies) in 133 disclosures from 150.
- In 17 disclosures, it was not possible to take further action (in 9 disclosures, no contact details were provided) or it was assessed as unreasonable (8 disclosures) to do so.
- Overall, the SFO took action in over 89% of whistleblowing disclosures received.
Whistleblowers continue to provide a vital source of information to the SFO in the fight against economic crime.