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Gov’t Halts SFO Vivisection

Theresa May greets Prime Minister David Cameron on his first visit to the Home OfficeThe BBC reported Saturday that British home secretary Theresa May has ended her plans to break up the Serious Fraud Office.

Last week, May’s plan to chop the SFO in half and send its investigative and prosecution functions to other agencies drew heavy fire.

The BBC’s business editor, Robert Peston, was among those who said the move was a step back from global best practices.

The home office wanted to send the SFO’s prosecuting function to the Crown Prosecution Service and its investigating side to the National Crime Agency.

Despite opposition in the press, from civil society groups and the compliance community, the BBC said May “presented her proposals at last week’s cabinet. According to a source, the discussion was ‘exceptionally difficult.’ He said there was almost no support for the break-up of the SFO.”

Another source quoted by the BBC said: “The cabinet has agreed that the SFO model for tackling economic crime is the right one.”

The head of Transparency International – UK last week said May’s plan was “poorly conceived” and could “reverse the UK’s improving enforcement record.”

Even the Catholic Church weighed in. According to the BBC, Cafod, the church’s overseas development agency, said “it cannot make sense to weaken the fight against financial crime by absorbing fraud investigation in the National Crime Agency, where it will inevitably be treated as that Agency’s lower priority.”

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