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Get Out Of Jail Free Cards For Uk Fraudsters

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George Osborne has a secret veto over large and potentially politically sensitive fraud investigations, The Independent has learnt.

Under a government agreement the Serious Fraud Office must get permission from the Treasury to launch any complex new inquiry which comes on top of its normal budget.

But controversially the Treasury can keep its decisions secret – potentially allowing it to veto politically sensitive fraud inquiries, either before or midway through an investigation, without public scrutiny.

Ministers have now become the final arbiters of which major financial crimes are investigated as a result of 25 per cent cuts to the SFO’s budget over the past three years, Labour warned.

The move is particularly sensitive as the Government has intervened in the past to halt embarrassing fraud investigations.

In 2006 the then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith announced that an SFO investigation into claims that BAE Systems had paid bribes to secure an arms deal with Saudi Arabia was being dropped. The announcement came weeks after reports that the Saudis were threatening to pull out of a deal to buy 72 Eurofighter jets from BAE.

Critics warned that the Government could use the veto to prevent investigations into alleged fraud at RBS in the run-up to the financial crisis – which have the potential to cost the Government millions in compensation.

The bank, now state-owned, is facing a civil action over claims that senior executives must have known about it perilous financial state when it launched a £12bn rights issue months before the financial crisis. If the SFO were to investigate and prove criminal liability it would force the Government to pay out to those who lost money by investing in the rights issue.

The veto came to light in parliamentary answers to the shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry.

She asked the Attorney General if he would give public notification of each occasion on which the Serious Fraud Office requests additional funding from the Treasury.

However he declined to do so, claiming it would “not be possible to do this without the risk of prejudice to the success of the Office’s operations”.

Ms Thornberry said the decision effectively amounted to giving the Chancellor a secret say over controversial investigations which might never see the light of day.

“It looks as though George Osborne will have a secret veto over what gets investigated and that’s unacceptable,” she said. “Investigators and prosecutors should not have to go running to politicians for funding case by case. If they do, they are no longer politically independent and the public will lose faith in what they do.”

Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International, which campaigns against corruption, pointed out that the SFO had not brought a single prosecution under a new law that allows UK companies to be prosecuted for bribery abroad.

He said there was potentially a “clear conflict of interest” in the Treasury’s role promoting economic growth and deciding whether to investigate a UK company for misdeeds in a foreign country which might damage its reputation and finances. “Either by design or accident you could easily get a situation where egregious corruption is simply not investigated,” he said.

“We have already seen political interference in the case of BAE and it is simply wrong that the Treasury should have the power to withhold exceptional funding to investigate cases of corruption. The SFO should be a properly funded institution with the ability to decide independently which cases it investigates without the suggestion of political motives at play.”

A spokesman for the Attorney General insisted that the director of the Serious Fraud Office “alone” determined which cases the SFO would investigate, based on its case selection criteria.

However the spokesman added: “Where an exceptionally large case needs to be investigated the Treasury will consider SFO’s ability to fund the case from existing resources.” Decisions had to remain private because “to publish such information could prejudice the investigation”, the spokesman said.

Good to know that the power to shackle or free the UK's top fraudsters is in Osborne's capable, objective hands.

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Interesting, but complicated.

The comments under the article are useless - like reading Zerohedge.

Too much complexity in the system, not enough simplicity in the mediation of the system - it's a system problem. But then tighten the purse string and it becomes random, as it had to be from the beginning, system destroyed.

I wonder if this is an example of the just world fallacy, where the victim must be blamed instead of the criminal because otherwise the illusion of those biased in favour of the criminal is destroyed:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis

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How many banking crimes and misdemeanours have been admitted in the last five years? And how many bankers tried and imprisoned? White collar criminals have no need of a get-of-jail-free card in the UK as they're already beyond the reach of the law.

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How many banking crimes and misdemeanours have been admitted in the last five years? And how many bankers tried and imprisoned? White collar criminals have no need of a get-of-jail-free card in the UK as they're already beyond the reach of the law.

Yes. but did they touch a woman's breast forty years ago? THAT is what is now considered important. You can lie, steal, swindle, cheat, defraud, embezzle, none of that matters any more, it hasn't for a decade or more. I reported a case of mortgage and financial fraud to the police a few years ago. They just could not care less. If I was a woman "victim" claiming "inappropriate" behaviour forty years ago, they'd have a multi-million investigation, they'd even gift me a few thousand of the public largesse for making the complaint, even if it had no substance.

Grrrr....

We need to get back to decorating lamposts with the enemies of the public.

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Well, someone has to decide what the SFO can devote time and energy to.

The article looks to me as if it's attempting to mislead: it names Osborne, but actually says " ... must get permission from the Treasury ...". They are not the same thing, and permission from the treasury would mean a civil servant taking a decision. There may be a conflict of interest, but it's not as if the DTI - whose business really is to promote British industry - was the one with the veto.

Labour is also being disingenuous: they're the ones who seriously abused their power to halt fraud investigations[1]. If there's anything going on now (and it seems perfectly likely), they should be blowing a whistle on the actual case, not trying to blame Osborne for their own crimes.

I'd be more concerned at the SFO's track record of high-profile and hugely expensive failures. That's historic, and even if they were to recruit the world's best investigative team and give it unlimited resources, the likelihood of anything changing seems remote so long as our courts apply an innocent until proven broke principle.

[1] I'm sure nods and winks happened before the days of NuLab. But The Liar took corruption to the heart of government, and at a whole new level.

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Yes. but did they touch a woman's breast forty years ago? THAT is what is now considered important. You can lie, steal, swindle, cheat, defraud, embezzle, none of that matters any more, it hasn't for a decade or more. I reported a case of mortgage and financial fraud to the police a few years ago. They just could not care less. If I was a woman "victim" claiming "inappropriate" behaviour forty years ago, they'd have a multi-million investigation, they'd even gift me a few thousand of the public largesse for making the complaint, even if it had no substance.

Grrrr....

We need to get back to decorating lamposts with the enemies of the public.

Spot on perspective.

We seem to have descended down the rabbit hole. This and the whole propping up the housing market attempting to created a new bubble. Smoke and mirrors whiles they continue their looting.

Edited by tinker

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  • 241 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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