HC Deb 06 March 2000 vol 345 c463W
Mr. Nicholls

To ask the Solicitor-General what criteria the Director of the Serious Fraud Office is required to follow in exercising his discretion not to institute criminal proceedings in return for the person concerned giving evidence for the prosecution; what administrative procedures must be carried out before the exercise of his discretion, in particular if he is required to carry out inquiries into the antecedents of such a person; how many times the Director has exercised his discretion since 1995; if the prohibition against convicted criminals being able financially to benefit by their crimes extends to such a person; and if he will make a statement. [112407]

The Solicitor-General

In deciding whether to prosecute, the Director of the Serious Fraud Office applies the evidential and public interest tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. Because fraud cases present particular problems of complexity it is sometimes necessary for investigators to have the assistance of one of the participants in a fraud in order to break it. Usually such a participant is on the periphery of the wrongdoing. In such cases the Director will consider all the information available at the time (including any information as to the financial or other benefits received as a result of the participation in the fraud) and may consult the Law Officers for advice. The Director will always consult the Law Officers before granting a formal written immunity from prosecution. [If the offence does not relate to serious or complex fraud the Director will seek the assistance of the Director of Public Prosecutions.] The number of times the Director has exercised his or her discretion since 1995 cannot be ascertained without incurring disproportionate cost.