Interview with George Staple, Director of the Serious Fraud Office

Pages177-185
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/eb025619
Publication Date01 Feb 1993
AuthorMatthew Weait
SubjectAccounting & finance
Interview with George Staple, Director
of
the Serious Fraud Office
Matthew Weait
Matthew Weait
After graduating with degrees
in
law and
criminology from Cambridge University,
Matthew Weait was
a
research officer
in
law
at
the Centre
for
Socio-Legal
Studies, Wolfson College, Oxford. From
1991
-2
he was
a
lecturer
at
New
College, Oxford, and
in
1992 was
appointed City Solicitors' Lecturer in Law
at Birkbeck College, University
of
London.
He
is a
member
of
the Editorial
Board
of
The
Journal of Asset Protection
and Financial Crime.
ABSTRACT
The Serious Fraud Office was
set
up on
the
recommendation
of the
Roskill Committee
by
the
Criminal Justice
Act 1987. It is
responsible
for the
investigation and prose-
cution
of
serious
and
complex fraud.
In
recent years
the
Office
has
been criticised
for
the way in
which
it
handles cases,
largely
as a
result
of the
perception that
there have been
too
many acquittals
in the
cases which
it has
chosen
to
prosecute.
In
this interview, Matthew Weait discusses
the
role
and
aims
and
problems
of the
Office
with
its
present Director, George Staple.
Mr
Staple considers
the
problems which
the
Office faces,
the
extent
to
which
he
con-
siders criticism justified
and
wider issues
relating
to
the effective prosecution
of
fraud.
George Staple,
52,
took
up the
post
of
Director in April 1992. Formerly senior litiga-
tion Partner
of
Clifford Chance,
he was
appointed
in 1986 as a
Companies
Act
Inspector. Between
1987 and
1991
he sat
as
a
Chairman
of the
Authorisation
and
Disciplinary Tribunal
of
the Securities Asso-
ciation
and the
Securities
and
Futures
Authority.
For
many years
Mr
Staple
was a
member
of the
Commercial Court Commit-
tee
and
served
as
Treasurer
of the Law
Society from 1989
to
1992.
INTERVIEW
MW: To what extent do you think that
the Serious Fraud Office has fulfilled the
expectations of those who campaigned
for its introduction?
GS:
Well I suppose there was a cam-
paign there was certainly a Roskill
Report. It was strongly in favour of
setting up a new agency to deal with
serious and complex fraud. I think it's
very difficult, because you don't know,
but for the existence of the SFO, what
the level of fraud would have been in
recent years. I think one can be fairly
certain that serious and complex fraud
which, at the end of the 1970s and in the
early 1980s was simply not being inves-
tigated and prosecuted, is to some extent
now being investigated and prosecuted. I
am sure that we don't investigate and
prosecute all serious and complex fraud;
but we aim to do enough to be a real
177

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