Serious Fraud Office
The SFO is a specialist prosecuting authority tackling the top level of serious or complex fraud, bribery and corruption.
We are part of the UK criminal justice system covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not Scotland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.
We take on a small number of large economic crime cases. In considering whether to take on an investigation, the Director of the SFO applies his Statement of Principle, which includes consideration of:
- whether the apparent criminality undermines UK PLC commercial or financial interests in general and in the City of London in particular,
- whether the actual or potential financial loss involved is high,
- whether actual or potential economic harm is significant,
- whether there is a significant public interest element, and
- whether there is new species of fraud
We also pursue criminals for the financial benefit they have made from their crimes and assist overseas jurisdictions with their investigations into serious and complex fraud, bribery and corruption cases. Since 30 September 2017 we have had the power to investigate and prosecute the new offence of corporate failure to prevent the facilitation of overseas tax evasion.
We are unusual in the UK in that we both investigate and prosecute our cases. We were set up this way because these kinds of cases are complicated and lawyers and investigators need to work together from the beginning.
The SFO was created and given its powers under the Criminal Justice Act 1987 and was established in 1988. Read more about our history and powers here.
The SFO is superintended by the Attorney General in accordance with a protocol which sets out the relationship between the Attorney and the Law Officers’ Departments.