LONDON (Reuters) - The outgoing head of Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Wednesday the agency had provided the government with Brexit impact assessments and was confident all parties recognised the importance of cross-border criminal justice cooperation.
Quizzed by a parliamentary committee about the SFO’s work, David Green said Brexit could affect mechanisms such as European Arrest Warrants, membership of EU police agency Europol, mutual legal assistance and mutual recognition of confiscation orders.
“If they last and survive (Brexit), fine. If not we’d have to look at an alternative mechanism,” said the SFO director, who steps down after a six-year stint on April 20.
But he added: “I think everyone recognises on both sides that cooperation in relation to criminal investigation and prosecution and the return of suspected offenders is in everybody’s interest.”
Interior Minister Amber Rudd has said it is vital the European Union and Britain ensure continued security, law enforcement and criminal justice cooperation as both sides attempt to unravel more than 40 years of union.
Asked whether he had had any discussions with EU enforcement partners, Green said: “Yes, but obviously within careful guidelines because it would be unwise for us to take the initiative in that area.
“We are ready to supply information when asked (by the government). We do that on a regular basis,” he added. “We feed in on this debate.”
Under Green’s tenure, the SFO has secured high-profile deferred prosecution agreements with engineering group Rolls-Royce and grocer Tesco and filed unprecedented criminal charges against Barclays and former senior executives.
However, of the 13 people it has charged with manipulation of global Libor (London interbank offered rate) interest rates, eight have been acquitted.
Green said it was the job of the SFO to bring cases to trial and up to juries whether to convict defendants.
He also played down a government review of economic crime, published on Monday, which allows a new division of the broader and younger National Crime Agency (NCA) to instruct the SFO to investigate certain cases.
“I think it’s pretty clear that the independence of the SFO will continue,” he said.
“In so far as it (the review) is intended ... to increase and guarantee cooperation between the many agencies on the economic crime waterfront, who could possibly object? I certainly don’t.”
Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Mark Potter