Serious Fraud Office Annual Report

Published in mid-July 2022, the Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) Annual Report and Accounts for 2021/2022, makes for a very interesting read. The report includes an insight into the purpose and activities of the SFO as well as giving an overview of the cases of serious fraud, bribery, and corruption they have been dealing with.

SFO’s Objectives and values

  • To investigate and prosecute the most serious or complex cases of fraud, bribery, and corruption.
  • To uphold the rule of law, deliver justice for victims and recover the proceeds of financial crime.
  • To deter criminals and require offending companies to reform in order to protect the UK’s economy and global reputation as a safe place to invest and do business.
  • To collaborate with partners in the UK and overseas to ensure there is no safe haven for those who commit serious financial crime.
  • Make objective decisions whilst always being mindful of quality and value for money.

Numbers matter!

In 2021, 43 new investigations were opened, whilst 58 existing cases were closed, with the current SFO caseload being around 130 active cases.

Notably, in 2021, the 58 closed cases resulted in £105.5 million in fines and penalties were awarded to the SFO through Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA). This is more than double the £45 million that the SFO secured in the previous year. At the same time, £45.4 million in Financial Orders were recovered by a group of specialist lawyers and financial investigators using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POC), providing the highest recovery rate in the last 10 years.

Performance is key

So far, in 2022, the SFO has secured 2 guilty pleas by corporates for bribery and corruption offences. Petrofac Limited pleaded guilty to seven offences of failing to prevent bribery by its employees and agents and was ordered to pay a total of £77 million comprised of a confiscation order, fines, and cost awards to the SFO. Likewise, GPT Special Project Management Ltd pleaded guilty to one count of corruption, for which the company was ordered to pay a total of £30 million comprised of a confiscation order, fines, and cost awards to the SFO.

Furthermore, two SFO cases have proceeded to trial and were ongoing at the end of 2021 and an additional six cases are planned to commence in 2022-23, where 285 potential witnesses are to be assessed and supported ahead of the potential upcoming trials. Moreover, executive action was taken for 3 cases, putting to good use the legislative powers that Section 2 allows for gathering information.

Future plans

The SFO’s principal goals, identified in the strategy, relate to their core purpose by improving operational outcomes:

  • Reduce the average and median length of SFO investigations to 3 years;
  • Deliver at least one successful outcome in over 80% of SFO cases (including at least one conviction or DPA) and secure, by jury or guilty plea, a 60% conviction rate of defendants (both corporate and individuals);
  • Increase recovery rates against financial orders secured on realisable assets to 75%;
  • Secure year-on-year improvements to those victims and witnesses who are called to give evidence that are satisfied with the experience provided by the SFO

The SFO is confident that the proposed changes required to meet the ambitious goals set will start to come to fruition and will help to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms whilst ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

Anti-Financial Crime Support – How can Complyport Help?

Our experienced Financial Crime and Forensics team led by Martin Schofield—one of the world’s leading specialists in the field—brings a wealth of experience to every project we are engaged in. Our highly experienced financial crime professionals and forensic experts, in subjects such as anti-money laundering, counter terrorist financing, anti-bribery and corruption and fraud and regularly help our clients navigate the complexities of the financial crime and money laundering environment. Services offered by Complyport include:

  • AML/Fraud policy & training reviews,
  • Transaction monitoring / reporting framework reviews,
  • Vulnerable Customer Management framework reviews/audits/gap analysis,
  • Financial crime health checks and audits,
  • Implementation of financial crime, AML, CTF, ABC, Fraud and market abuse controls and frameworks,
  • Ongoing advice on financial crime, AML, CTF, market abuse and fraud prevention,
  • Authoring/reviewing financial crime policies,
  • Outsourced MLRO support
  • Outsourced KYC and CDD support,
  • Assistance in identifying Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs),
  • Assistance in navigating international sanctions,
  • Support with preventing market abuse and insider dealing,
  • Expert Witness in Financial Crime cases
  • Forensics and Investigations
  • Design and/or delivery of online or face to face financial crime training

If this article has raised any questions, or you think your firm may require assistance, please contact either Martin Schofield via or Jan Hagen via to book in a free consultation.

About Complyport

Complyport is the City’s market leading consulting firm supporting the UK financial services industry for over 20 years. We specialise in providing Governance, Risk and Compliance services to support the regulated financial services industry to raise standards and thrive.

Complyport advises and assists firms to become authorised and to comply with the rules and requirements of regulators on an ongoing basis. Our vision is to be there for our clients every step of the way, helping them change, grow, and excel through expertise, insight, and innovation, and in so doing to become our clients’ most valued supplier and trusted advisor.

With presence in the UK and EU, as well as via our Associates Network, Complyport can assist firms across multiple jurisdictions.

Complyport’s multidisciplinary consultants possess deep expertise in their field, having acted in FCA skilled person reviews, as expert witnesses in legal cases and as expert investigators for firms or their legal advisers.

Day to day, we conduct audits and reviews of a firm’s products, processes, policies, and procedures to identify scope for business, to determine the impact of regulatory developments and to verify compliance with local regulations. Complyport can also assist firms by providing personnel to cover all the key compliance functions including resourcing individuals to be registered as your Compliance Oversight Function (SMF16) and/or Money-Laundering Reporting Officer (SMF17).

Our clients tell us we live our values; we are driven, agile and collaborative.