Francesca Titus Comments in Compliance Week on Serious Fraud Office’s Integrity

December 20, 2021

Compliance Week quoted McGuireWoods London partner Francesca Titus in a Dec. 13, 2021, article on the UK Attorney General’s Office investigation of the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) after the agency denied a convicted former oil and gas executive the right to a fair trial.

The UK Court of Appeal overturned the conviction of a former Unaoil executive who was sentenced to prison for bribing public officials to secure building contracts worth $55 million. In a judgment deemed “remarkable” by legal experts, the court found that, among other errors and questionable conduct, the SFO improperly allowed a Florida-based investigator representing Unaoil’s founders to become actively involved in the agency’s case to prosecute company managers.

The UK Attorney General’s Office is concerned about the SFO’s impropriety and will conduct an independent review.

“This is an organization that lacks any credibility,” said Titus. “The Court of Appeal has exposed the SFO’s unorthodox practices conducted by those right at the top of the organization. How can the public have any confidence now in the agency?”

Companies investigated by the SFO will now “be on high alert” about the regulator’s culture and willingness to follow the usual rules of criminal procedure, she added.