Regulation

UK's Fraud Investigator Reviewing 'Blockbuster Funding' Model

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The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of the U.K. is taking a second look at one of its practices that has raised criticism in the past following a report published by the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (CPSI).

CPSI released a report on Tuesday (May 24) that found SFO's use of so-called "blockbuster funding" may hamper progress in investigations and could weaken cases taken on by the body, which investigates fraud and corruption. Blockbuster funding allows SFO to request extra funds ahead of major cases and stockpile external resources and staffing to prepare.

But CPSI's analysis concluded that the extra staffing levels could damage investigations taken on by the Serious Found Office and did not bring value for the money provided to the body.

Instead, CPSI said, this practice could actually prevent SFO from gradually developing and growing its own, internal resources and expertise. External staffing may also lead to inconsistency in investigative practices, the report added.

"There is, therefore, an inherent lack of consistency in [SFO] teams, which becomes particularly problematic because of the lengthy nature of SFO investigations," CPSI stated. "This disruption increases the risk of delay in cases and may weaken the investigative strategy going forward."

In response, SFO said on Tuesday that it would take another look at its use of blockbuster funding. In a statement, the investigator's head, David Green, told reporters that the agency is "giving new consideration" to this funding model and added that it would carefully assess the recommendations made in the CPSI report.

CPSI said that while the Serious Fraud Office has succeeded in improving its reputation in recent years, it should consider a smaller management board, as well as appointing a chief executive. These measures, the report stated, could help SFO establish clearer guidelines for reporting and task delegation and lead to more efficient and consistent investigations.

Previous criticism of blockbuster funding claimed SFO was exposing itself to political interference with regards to investigations into influential corporations, reports said.

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