HC Deb 17 June 1991 vol 193 cc13-4
29. Mr. Carrington

To ask the Attorney-General what progress is being made in improving co-operation between the Serious Fraud Office and overseas agencies in the prosecution of fraud cases.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Nicholas Lyell)

Last week the United Kingdom implemented part 1 of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 enabling us to ratify the European convention on mutual assistance; and on 14 May 1991 we also implemented the European convention on extradition.

Mr. Carrington

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend. He will be aware that the position of London as the major financial centre in Europe is at least partly dependent upon our ability to prosecute fraud across international boundaries. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the measure of international co-operation now discussed will make it much easier to prosecute fraud across international boundaries?

The Solicitor-General

Yes I do. The director of the Serious Fraud Office keeps in close contact with her overseas equivalents. The measures that I have just mentioned will enable us to serve summonses and other judicial documents from abroad in the same way as we do here to help to obtain evidence. They also include the use of domestic procedures for police powers of search and seizure. Those measures will enable the transfer of prisoners to give evidence overseas and from overseas to give evidence here. All that is extremely beneficial.

Mr. Dickens

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that as soon as a villain knows that the game is up he immediately hot foots out of the United Kingdom to safety and support overseas? That leaves behind devastation and misery for those companies or people against whom he has committed fraud. Will my right hon. and learned Friend insist that we pull together the support from overseas agencies so that such people can be pursued and convicted?

The Solicitor-General

I agree with my hon. Friend. The object of the measures is such that those alleged to have committed such fraud can be brought back from overseas to face trial.