1Under the Criminal Justice Act 1987 the Director of the SFO may investigate any suspected offence which appears on reasonable grounds to involve serious or complex fraud and may also conduct, or take over the conduct of, the prosecution of any such offence. The SFO may investigate in conjunction with any other person with whom the Director thinks it is proper to do so; that includes a police force (or the FCA or any other regulator). The criteria used by the SFO for deciding whether a case is suitable for it to deal with are set out in App 3.3.3.
1The key criterion should be that the suspected fraud is such that the direction of the investigation should be in the hands of those who would be responsible for any prosecution.
The factors that are taken into account include:
- whether the amount involved is at least £1 million (this is simply an objective and recognisable signpost of seriousness and likely public concern rather than the main indicator of suitability);
- whether the case is likely to give rise to national publicity and widespread public concern. That includes those involving government bodies, public bodies, the governments of other countries and commercial cases of public interest;
- whether the case requires highly specialist knowledge of, for example, stock exchange practices or regulated markets;
- whether there is a significant international dimension;
- whether legal, accountancy and investigative skills need to be brought together; and
- whether the case appears to be complex and one in which the use of Section 2 powers might be appropriate.