HC Deb 08 July 1991 vol 194 cc642-3
33. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a further statement on the work of the Serious Fraud Office.

The Attorney-General

The Serious Fraud Office continues to make an increasing contribution to the detection and prosecution of commercial fraud.

Mr. Banks

Many people feel that the Government do not take white-collar crime seriously. Perhaps if the Serious Fraud Office had the necessary resources, the fraud surrounding the Bank of Credit and Commerce International would not have taken place. Even if the office were to acquire the extra resources, what would be the point of its putting all that effort into arresting white-collar criminals such as Ernest Saunders and Gerald Ronson if, once such people have been put in prison, they are let out soon afterwards?

The Attorney-General

The hon. Gentleman has asked about five questions, not all of which deal with areas for which I am responsible. As I pointed out in an answer a few weeks ago, the Serious Fraud Office has brought some 54 cases to trial in its first two years of existence, and more than two thirds of the defendants have been convicted.

I am not aware of any significant shortage of resources. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the BCCI case. The papers were sent from the Bank of England to the Serious Fraud Office on Friday and today formal acceptance of the case by the Serious Fraud Office has been announced. As the hon. Gentleman knows, sentences are not a matter for me.