April 3, 2019

SFO director focuses on corporate cooperation

In a speech before the Royal United Services Institute in London seven months into her tenure as director of the UK Serious Fraud Office, Lisa Osofsky discussed technology, and enforcement tools such as asset seizures, and she addressed cooperation at many levels.  

She emphasized the importance of multidisciplinary teams of attorneys, investigators, prosecutors, accountants and others working on a case together within the SFO, and she spoke about the recently-established National Economic Crime Centre (NECC).  She touched on public-private partnerships, and discussed the importance of strong international relationships, and of understanding the differences in legal systems, approaches and procedures in various countries, saying, “You never know where an investigation might lead.”  

The weightiest portion of Osofsky’s discussion focused on cooperation of corporates.  Osofsky warned that if companies want cooperation credit, they should make cooperating with law enforcement the ultimate objective of their internal investigations. They should preserve and share important evidence, and not throw “the blanket of Legal Professional Privilege” over the results of their internal investigations, particularly when it comes to individual culpability.  Citing Sir Brian Leveson in the Court of Appeal decision in SFO v. ENRC, Osofsky said that waiving privilege is a strong indicator of cooperation, and an important consideration in deciding whether to allow a deferred prosecution agreement.

SFO speech