“Effective and proactive” recovery of the proceeds of crime

Jul 26th '21

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has been praised by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) for its work to recover the proceeds of crime, with cases “handled proactively and efficiently by dedicated and skilled staff.


The SFO’s Proceeds of Crime and International Assistance Division fights to trace and seize money and other assets from criminals, making sure they cannot rest on their ill-gotten gains. This report by HMCPSI, the statutory body which inspects prosecution services to improve processes, assessed the SFO and Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) approaches to recovering the proceeds of crime. It highlighted the effectiveness of both the SFO and CPS in identifying and confiscating criminal assets.


Commenting on the report, HMCPSI Chief Inspector Andrew Cayley CMG QC said: The work that the CPS and SFO Proceeds of Crime teams do to recover the illicit gains of criminal conduct is a vital element of the criminal justice system. This joint inspection of both organisations shows that cases are handled proactively and efficiently by dedicated and skilled staff.”


The inspectors picked out the SFO’s Roskill Model, where financial investigators, case progression officers, lawyers and case controllers work side-by-side, as a clear strength, also praising the input of expert members of the proceeds of crime team in criminal investigations.


Lisa Osofsky, Director of the SFO, said:Our mission at the Serious Fraud Office is to fight complex financial crime, deliver justice for victims and protect the UK’s reputation as a safe place to do business. We achieve this by prosecuting criminals but also making sure there is no safe haven for their illicit gains, in the UK or abroad. This work starts at the beginning of each criminal investigation.  …  “I am pleased that the inspectors have highlighted the skill and dedication of our team, and we will work with partners at the CPS to take their helpful suggestions into consideration.”


Speaking about the report, Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said:We continue to help deliver justice at a difficult time and within the constraints placed upon the entire criminal justice system and are working as hard as ever on confiscation cases.”


In 2020/21, the SFO’s proceeds of crime team confiscated £5.7m worth of illicit assets. This included the seizure of £500,000 worth of gold, silver and diamond-encrusted jewellery associated with career criminal Nisar Afzal and securing increases in the confiscation amounts of convicted fraudsters, ensuring they continue to pay for their crimes. The SFO also secured £1.2m from a luxury West London apartment which it showed to have been partly purchased with the corrupt funds of its owner’s criminal conduct in Brazil.


The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) fights complex financial crime, delivers justice for victims and protects the UK public and country from economic harm. We investigate and prosecute the most serious or complex cases of fraud, bribery and corruption. We also recover the proceeds of crime worldwide and assist international partners with their investigations, for which the Proceeds of Crime and International Assistance Division takes responsibility.


Under Director Lisa Osofsky, the SFOsecured convictions against 21 individuals and companies, recovered over £1 billion of illicit gains, and secured eight agreements with companies including Serco, G4S and Airbus, compelling them to pay penalties and reform to prevent future law-breaking.


Source: SFO



  1. More information on the SFO’s work to recover the proceeds of crime can be found in their 2020/21 Annual Report and Accounts.
  2. The report was published on July 22 2021 and can be found here.


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