Former U.S. federal prosecutor to move Britain’s fraud buster

LONDON (Reuters) – Former U.S. federal prosecutor Lisa Osofsky was named the top of Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on Monday and stated she wished to embolden an company whose future has been unsure.

FILE PHOTO: Fog is seen clearing across the Shard skyscraper in London, Britain, November 2, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Senior attorneys gave the news a guarded welcome, some saying she can be a contemporary face for Britain’s high white collar crime-fighting organisation simply over a yr after it noticed off threats to its independence.

Osofsky, a twin U.S.-British nationwide, joins from Exiger, a monetary crime compliance company, the place she was a managing director and head of investigations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Before that she prosecuted greater than 100 instances for the U.S. government.

“Lisa Osofsky is not one of the usual establishment faces so will bring new insight and fresh thinking,” stated Louise Hodges, Head of Criminal Litigation at Kingsley Napley.

“The question on everyone’s lips however is whether she will protect the organisation from political interference,” Hodges added.

The ruling Conservative Party had pledged in May final yr to scrap the company and fold it into the broader National Crime Agency (NCA), as a part of a shake-up after a sequence of setbacks in high-profile instances.

But that plan drew fierce criticism from attorneys and anti-corruption teams who stated it could weaken the combat in opposition to white collar crime in Europe’s main monetary centre. The scheme was dropped from the celebration’s two-year coverage programme one month later.

In April this yr, the SFO stated its core funding would rise by round 50 p.c this yr, serving to it to tackle larger instances. But questions over its future lingered.

“Top of her agenda will be to determine exactly where the SFO fits once the National Economic Crime Centre is established,” stated Christopher David, counsel in UK investigations and prison litigation at WilmerHale lawfirm.

“As an English qualified lawyer who has held senior positions in U.S. law enforcement and the finance industry, she will clearly bring a fresh perspective, and potentially reforming zeal, to the role,” David stated.

The SFO’s earlier everlasting director, David Green, ended a six-year stint in April, when the company’s chief working officer, Mark Thompson, turned interim director till a brand new director began.

Britain’s Attorney General stated Thompson will proceed as interim director till Osofsky, long-rumoured to be lined up for the highest job, begins on Sept. three, when he’ll return to his everlasting position as COO.

“I look forward to building on the SFO’s successful record in the fight against economic crime and leading an emboldened SFO to even greater heights,” Osofsky stated in a press release.

Osofsky has been appointed for a five-year time period on the SFO that’s renewable.

During Green’s tenure, the company was praised bypoliticians for securing deferred prosecution agreements with Rolls-Royce and Tesco, and yielding mixed fines of round 630million kilos.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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