December 4, 2018

SFO director offers insights on the meaning of cooperation

Three months into her tenure as Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Lisa Osofsky made the keynote address at the 35th International Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in Washington DC on November 28.  She discussed the SFO’s focus on international law enforcement cooperation in the white collar context, as well as the SFO’s view on what it means to cooperate with prosecutors, including making financial records and witnesses available promptly; bringing relevant documents to the SFO’s attention; making evidence available in a way that comports with local law; and not creating proof or procedural barriers.  She added that parties should be acutely aware of differences in the law of different jurisdictions, such as the absence of a statute of limitations in bribery and fraud cases in England and Wales, and in particular, the importance of giving “first witness accounts.”  That is, investigative steps taken internally may create communications that in the attorneys’ view are privileged, but which, in the view of an English court, must be provided to a criminal defendant to ensure a fair trial.  Osofsky warned, “Don’t simply blunder into this and then be distressed and offended if we seek those interviews because a court wants us, as a matter of fairness, to provide this material to a defendant in the dock.  That is not cooperation.”

SFO speech