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The Serious Fraud Office

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is a separate authority presided over by its own Director. Unlike the CPS, the Serious Fraud Office is an investigating authority as well as a prosecuting authority. It follows that the CPS has no involvement in the cases which the SFO has selected for investigation, even where that investigation is being supported or supplemented by police or National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators.

Specialist Fraud Division

Introduction to the Specialist Fraud Division

The Specialist Fraud Division is a dedicated fraud prosecuting team within the CPS. It has a national remit and the specialist expertise to prosecute cases investigated by police and a range of other investigative agencies throughout England and Wales.

The work includes prosecuting the most serious, complex and difficult fraud cases investigated by police forces across England and Wales. The Division primarily takes fraud and corruption work from specialist units in the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police Service, but has a number of cases investigated by other forces and has arrangements in place to work with the National Crime Agency (NCA) Economic Crime Command (ECC) and regional police fraud units.

SFD also prosecutes all criminal tax, excise and strategic export cases, which are subject to criminal investigations by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), in England and Wales.

In addition, SFD prosecutes all criminal cases relating to benefits and child maintenance legislation which are investigated by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP); NHS fraud investigated by NHS Protect; and criminal matters investigated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

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Our Work

HMRC has responsibility for investigating all fiscal crimes, which involve activities such as direct and indirect tax evasion, excise duty fraud and tax credit fraud. These crimes are a major source of income for organised criminals and frequently involve concerted and highly sophisticated attacks upon the tax system.

SFD also handles other casework investigated by HMRC, involving serious non-fiscal crimes such as illegal arms trafficking, certain breaches of sanctions legislation and associated money laundering.

Individuals and companies are subject to the activity of fraudsters, involving organised criminals and dishonest opportunists. Common examples are pyramid ("Ponzi") schemes, boiler room investment frauds and mortgage fraud. Fraud cases that are complex, sensitive or have a value of more than £1 million are dealt with by SFD. Other fraud cases are handled by local CPS prosecutors, including regional complex casework units (CCUs).

For police-investigated cases, the Division's formal take-up criteria include:

  • cases with a minimum provable loss of £1m (although this is not determinative as Area Complex Casework Units may also prosecute frauds at or above this value);
  • difficult corruption and bribery cases, especially concerning public (including foreign public) bodies or officials (other than the police, which are referred to the Special Crime division)
  • cases where local concern makes it appropriate to refer the case outside the area
  • frauds on government departments or the governments of other countries
  • cases where widespread concern makes it appropriate for the SFD to co-ordinate and set standards
  • difficult cases requiring specialist knowledge such as Stock Exchange practices, regulatory bodies, complex banking issues, shipping law etc
  • complex and high value "boiler room" and "Ponzi" frauds; and
  • money laundering connected with fraudulent activity.

These criteria are indicative: a judgement is made in each case.

SFD teams have national responsibility in England and Wales to prosecute cases investigated by the DWP's internal investigation department, the Fraud and Error Service (FES) which is currently forming a single fraud investigation service.

The cases FES deal with are primarily concerned with benefit fraud and the vast majority are prosecuted in the magistrates' courts. Benefit fraud is when someone is dishonest in order to receive benefit or knowingly fails to report a change in their circumstances. This includes, for example, people who:

  • do not report they are now living with a partner or that their partner has started work
  • do not report they are receiving other benefits
  • do not declare their savings or do not declare the right amount of savings
  • are claiming for children who have left home
  • do not report they have started work, or started to earn money
  • do not report they have inherited money
  • do not report they are going abroad, living abroad, or have changed address.

Other examples of crime that FES investigates include frauds related to grants (e.g. crisis loans), the access to work scheme, maternity and other allowance fraud and identity fraud (e.g. false or hijacked identity).

We prosecute criminal cases investigated by NHS Protect on behalf of the Department of Health (DH). These cases usually involve fraud against the NHS.

We are responsible for prosecuting cases previously dealt with by Defra. These cases are prosecuted on behalf of a number of different agencies including: Animal Health, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Forestry Commission, Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Rural Payments Agency, The Food and Environment Research Agency and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

Cases include the illegal use and sale of veterinary medicines, offences against fish and shellfish health regulations, environmental damage, animal welfare crimes, illegal working practices in the food and agriculture industries and crimes related to livestock registration and food labelling.

SFD also prosecutes all cases on behalf of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. Offences include the production and distribution of counterfeit medicines.

The Division also works closely with CPS Proceeds of Crime (CPSPOC). In cases where there are complexities surrounding the identification, securing and confiscation of criminal assets, cases are referred to CPSPOC at an early stage and they deal with any issues relating to restraint. More straightforward cases are dealt with internally. Once confiscation orders are awarded in SFD cases, CPSPOC will seek to enforce the orders and strip offenders of their criminal proceeds. Together, with CPSPOC, we advise investigators on:

  • the conduct of financial investigations
  • the law, practice and procedure relating to restraint, confiscation and receivership; and
  • the enforcement of confiscation orders

If you have any queries about the work of Specialist Fraud Division please contact the Division's enquiry team using the following email address: SFD.Enquiries@cps.gsi.gov.uk

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Our people

The Specialist Fraud Division employs around 255 prosecutors, paralegals and administrators based across offices in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and London.

Our specialist prosecutors have many years of experience in fraud cases. They have the core skills of all Central Casework Division prosecutors plus the skill sets appropriate to expert fraud prosecutors, which include:

  • good knowledge of relevant law, including Fraud and Theft Acts, Bribery Act and other anti-corruption and confiscation legislation, fiscal and social security legislation
  • ability to advise on and obtain evidence from overseas jurisdictions, through the use of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and Joint Investigation Teams (JITs)
  • understanding of the financial and commercial context in which fraud operates, including the relevant regulatory regimes which operate
  • ability to focus on key issues, to manage large cases and to present an understandable case to juries; and
  • strong negotiating and communication skills.

Senior staff

Naheed Hussain, Deputy Head of CPS Specialist Fraud DivisionNaheed Hussain, Deputy Head of CPS Specialist Fraud Division

Naheed Hussain was admitted as a Solicitor in 1987. Naheed Joined CPS in 1989, she has worked in 5 out of the current 13 CPS Areas. The last Area she worked in was CPS London, where she was the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor responsible for the Crown Court North Team.

In 2014 Naheed was appointed to the post of Programme Director for the Single Fraud Investigation Service Project (SFIS) for CPS and then for the Serious Casework Review. She took up post as the Deputy Head of the Specialist Fraud Division responsible for the London Teams in March 2015.

Elizabeth Jenkins, Deputy Head of CPS Specialist Fraud DivisionElizabeth Jenkins, Deputy Head of CPS Specialist Fraud Division

Elizabeth was called to the Bar in October 1995 and thereafter took up tenancy in London chambers, managing an almost exclusively civil law practice, until November 2000 when she joined what was then The Solicitor's Office of Customs and Excise in Manchester.

In September 2010, and following the merger with the CPS, she joined Organised Crime Division North as a Senior Specialist Prosecutor until September 2011 when she took over as Unit Head. In June 2014 she became Deputy Head of OCD and then in March 2015 took up her post within SFD.

Astrid Goodwin, Senior Business ManagerAstrid Goodwin, Senior Business Manager

Astrid Goodwin joined the CPS in 1988 and in her current role she leads on all the Business issues impacting on the Division. This includes Finance, Performance, HR, Facilities, Business Planning and managing risk and change.

She has a small Business Support team and two Divisional Business Managers to support her.

Astrid currently sits on the ABM forum, Finance Committee and Diversity Steering Committee.


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Press releases related to Specialist Fraud Division

Date

Outline

24/06/2016

Four sentenced to a total of 29 years for £98 million tax fraud scheme

24/06/2016

Family sentenced for £2.8 million theft from employer

24/06/2016

Directors already disqualified for malpractice defrauded 259 victims of £3 million

10/12/2015

Criminal network convicted for industrial-scale fraud of elderly and vulnerable victims

27/11/2015

Four defendants, including a senior NHS manager, convicted of defrauding or conspiring to defraud the NHS of over £3m

04/09/2015

Gambling addict bank worker sentenced to 28 months for £300,000 cash fraud

03/09/2015

Fifteen suspects charged with £12m fraud and money laundering against public and private bodies

18/08/2015

Man sentenced for stealing over £350,000 from elderly and vulnerable victims

07/08/2015

Benefits cheat convicted for using details of brother who died in 1967

13/07/2015

Ex-UKIP MEP Ashley Mote convicted of 11 counts of false accounting, fraud and related offences

04/06/2015

Company Secretary charged with fraud and money laundering

15/04/2015

Diplomatic staff sentenced for £4.8m excise duty fraud

14/01/2015

A4e employees found guilty of fraud and forgery

08/12/2014

Seven people found guilty of conspiring to cheat the revenue of £4.8m by abusing diplomatic status

03/10/2014

Man and wife sentenced following the sale of fraudulent bomb detectors

25/09/2014

Man convicted of 'Ponzi' investment scheme, taking £ 2.3 million from 28 victims

08/09/2014

Financial Controller steals over £788,000 from her employer to fund a lavish lifestyle buying horses and building an equestrian arena

03/09/2014

Man sentenced for eBay tax evasion totalling almost £300,000

30/07/2014

Perfusionists convicted of fraud against NHS

29/07/2014

Eight sentenced after top London cancer hospital defrauded of £640,000

25/07/2014

Woman who holidayed in Goa while claiming £134k benefits jailed for 27 months

18/07/2014

Surgery manager charged with NHS fraud after undercover sting

14/07/1014

24 people charged with £400,000 DWP benefit fraud

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Our history

The CPS became responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by HMRC in April 2010 when the CPS merged with the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO), which had previously been responsible for such prosecutions. The Director of Public Prosecutions was at the same time appointed by the Attorney General to be Director of Revenue and Customs Prosecutions.

In September 2011, the CPS took over the prosecution function of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Then on 1 April 2012, the prosecution functions of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were transferred to the CPS alongside the dedicated team responsible for prosecutions within DWP, who became CPS staff.

Along with the DWP Prosecutions Division, those staff responsible for the prosecutions for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also joined the CPS in April 2012.

You can read about how we prosecute welfare, rural and health related cases in the legal guidance section of this website.

This combination of specialisms within the CPS reflects the fact that economic criminality can take many forms and that prosecutors have to be able to deploy a range of expertise to give effective advice to investigative bodies. The diversity of expertise also supports working partnerships across different law enforcement bodies.

Historical documents relating to the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office can be found in the Publications section of this website.

To find out about the government reviews that led to the formation of the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office and its subsequent merger with the CPS, please go to the relevant page elsewhere on this site.

The Chambers Review: review of confiscation orders in tobacco cases

Following the case of R v Chambers [2008] EWCA Crim 2467 which was handed down by the Court of Appeal on 19 October 2008, we have completed a review of historic cases in which confiscation orders were obtained in tobacco smuggling cases.

This exercise is known as "the Chambers Review". To read about the Chambers Review, please go to the relevant page on this website.

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