Dealing with the Serious Fraud Office
Produced in partnership with Miranda Hill of 6KBW College Hill
Dealing with the Serious Fraud Office

The following Risk & Compliance guidance note Produced in partnership with Miranda Hill of 6KBW College Hill provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Dealing with the Serious Fraud Office
  • SFO—role and powers
  • Statutory/regulatory objectives
  • System of compliance checks/visits
  • SFO enforcement strategy
  • Attracting the SFO’s (unwanted) attention
  • If the SFO comes knocking…
  • Self-reporting to the SFO
  • Overlap with any other regulators
  • Hot topics

SFO—role and powers


The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is the authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which investigates and prosecutes cases of serious or complex fraud, including cases of domestic or overseas bribery and corruption. It was established by the Criminal Justice Act 1987 (CJA 1987) which contains its powers.


The SFO has power to:

  1. prosecute individuals and companies

  2. enter into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with a body corporate, a partnership or an unincorporated association (but not with an individual)

  3. apply for a civil recovery order under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 2002), where proceeds of crime have been identified but it is not feasible to secure a conviction, or where a conviction has been secured but no confiscation order has been made

  4. apply for an unexplained wealth order under POCA 2002, ss 362A–362I

Where a prosecution is successfully brought, in the case of an individual the sentence may be one of imprisonment (immediate or suspended), a community penalty or a fine. In the case of a company, the penalty will be a fine which will be calculated in accordance with the Sentencing Council’s Fraud, Bribery and Money Laundering Offences Definitive Guideline. Additional orders, such as compensation, confiscation and (in the case of individuals) director disqualification orders, may also be made.

Where a