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Harry Cassin
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‘Irregular’ payments to ex-CEO of SFO under investigation

The U.K. Serious Fraud Office said yesterday that Director David Green has called for an investigation into huge exit payments made to the former CEO of the agency, calling them an ‘unjustified expenditure.’

Chief Executive Officer Phillippa Williamson received what the Guardian called ‘irregular’ pension and severance payments of £422,000 ($681,600). The paper said the payments have already been made and cannot be clawed back.

Her terms of separation from the SFO were agreed less than a week before Green took over from Richard Alderman in April this year.

Williamson received £407,000 for pension expenses and £15,000 as severance.

The Guardian said there’s no evidence the SFO sought Treasury approval, ‘as required for a special severance payment of £15,000.’

Upon learning of the payments, Green ‘asked the Treasury Solicitors Office to conduct a full independent inquiry,’ the SFO said.

Green also ‘took legal advice as to the enforceability of the agreement and notified the National Audit Office of his decision not to seek retrospective approval from HM Treasury of what he considered unjustified expenditure,’ the SFO said.

As a result of Green’s action, the U.K. government report on the 2011-12 accounts of the SFO include a qualified audit opinion.

The SFO’s November 1 release is here.

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