Francesca Titus Comments on UK Serious Fraud Office Reputation

July 31, 2020

McGuireWoods London partner Francesca Titus was quoted in two July articles about the conviction record of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The Times quoted Titus in a July 9, 2020, story about recent investigation failures and lack of convictions by the SFO across corruption and fraud cases. While COVID-19 has had a hand in disrupting progress by the office, some believe that director Lisa Osofsky has been too slow to make notable progress in her role over her two-year tenure, which has led to widespread skepticism over the SFO's effectiveness, The Times reported.

“The mess that Lisa Osofsky inherited never seems to end. Investigations which started before her tenure ending in acquittals, investigations concluding with no charges brought, and last year negative reports from HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate,” have not encouraged confidence, Titus said.

“If the SFO wants to be taken seriously then Osofsky needs to start securing some convictions and fast,” she said.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Titus in a July 13, 2020, story on SFO convictions of two former Unaoil managers on charges related to a plan to pay bribes for securing contracts in Iraq.

Though the white-collar crimes prosecuting agency faces continued scrutiny for a weak prosecution record, some lawyers see recent charges as victories for the SFO, the article noted. Though the convictions were a mixed result, Titus said they “bring some much needed credibility to the work of the Serious Fraud Office.”

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