News Archive

Economic Crime

by msecadm4921

Enforcement agencies around the world need to co-operate in more sophisticated ways to catch criminals engaged in economic crime, says the Solicitor General, Mike O’Brien.

Speaking at the annual symposium on Economic Crime, Jesus College, Cambridge, on September 4, the Solicitor General said: "Today, economic crime has reached unparalleled levels of sophistication with the use of new technologies and that means that those in government and enforcement agencies must cooperate in more sophisticated ways to catch the criminals."

Mr O’Brien said that economic crime is estimated to cost UK businesses over £100m a day. "On a global level economic crime is big business," he said, adding that greater international cooperation between governments "places great importance on mutual support by agencies in investigations, agreements for courts to recognise the orders of judges in other countries, the importance of tackling delays in extradition and a more effective use by governments of technology to monitor and tackle economic crime."

The Solicitor General referred to the creation of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, an aim of which is to work with UK and overseas agencies to prevent criminals avoiding detection by crossing borders into other jurisdictions. He also pointed to the modernisation of the UK’s laws on fraud which, he said will "provide a clear and robust framework that is flexible enough to deal with increasingly sophisticated types of national and international fraud."

a unit to measure fraud. The National Fraud Reporting Centre, run by the Police, will seek to capture all reports of fraud from industry and the public. It aims to provide a one-stop shop for victims who currently have to complain to a wide variety of police stations, consumer protection organisations or websites. The Centre will be linked to other specialist reporting lines such as the Office of Fair Trading and the Bank and Credit Card Fraud hotlines. If the Centre can capture all the data on fraud, it can also begin its second task, which will be analysing trends in fraud and economic crime and the methods being used by criminals. It can then, provide proper intelligence to investigators so that they can focus our resources including our fraud squads more effectively. It also enables us to give timely warnings to potential victims about the kinds of offences that are developing and how to reduce the vulnerability of targets. Year on year, we should also be able to more accurately estimate whether our agencies, laws and courts are making a difference.

Some of the speech was given over to disrupting terrorist fund-raising, pointing out that activists carry out frauds, kidnaps and other crimes to raise funds.

Mr O’Brien also went through the Fraud Bill that is to replace the eight deception offences in the Theft Acts with a new general offence of fraud: “This aims to provide a clear and robust framework that is flexible enough to deal with increasingly sophisticated types of national and international fraud. The new general offence of fraud carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. The three ways of committing the general offence are: by false representation in any form; by failing to disclose information to another person where there is a legal duty to disclose the information; and by the abuse of position – meaning taking advantage of a position where one is expected to safeguard another’s financial interests. In addition to the general offence of fraud, the Law Commission recommended a new offence of "obtaining services dishonestly" to replace the current Theft Act offence of "obtaining services by deception". Clause 11 provides a new "theft-like" offence to cover services, thus addressing the current loophole regarding the fraudulent use of machines.”

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