Yellow abstract of floor level.

Fighting Financial Crime in the 2020s – Summary of discussion

Published on 26 February 2020

The Centre for Legal Leadership and the law firm RPC were delighted to co-host a panel this morning on the topic of 'Fighting Financial Crime in the 2020s'.

The panellists comprised Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Lord Garnier QC, the former Solicitor-General, and Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar Council of England & Wales.

The panel opened with short reflections on Financial Crime in the 2010s and in particular the introduction of the UK Bribery Act. Sam Tate then noted that "while there had been very important financial crime prevention efforts after the financial crash in the UK, London is unfortunately still considered by many as a hub for financial crime. Fighting financial crime would therefore be crucial to the city's success in the 2020s". 

In relation to the possibility of important new financial crime legislation in the 2020s, the speakers discussed criminal corporate liability laws. In that regard, although the precise ways in which the law might change were still unclear, there was consensus that the current system of corporate criminal liability could be significantly improved and that this would be a key issue for the early 2020s.  

Speaking about the impact of new proposed Deferred Prosecution regimes in countries such as Australia, Lisa Osofsky noted that the introduction of DPAs (Deferred Prosecution Agreement) generally to new countries was expected to be helpful and could facilitate more global settlements, such as the recent ground-breaking Airbus DPA.

In relation to individuals and DPAs, the panel acknowledged the need in principle to treat companies and individuals with equal fairness, while recognising that DPAs are only available under English law to corporate entities. In that regard, Lord Garnier QC noted that "the US system allows DPAs for individuals" and expressed his hope that with the help from the financial crime community, solutions could be found to issues that arise where the interests of individuals and companies naturally diverge.

Asked how Boards of Directors could prevent financial crime in the 2020s, the SFO Director commented that it was of "growing importance for Boards to have access to good, detailed and up to date financial crime related management information". The SFO Director also highlighted the SFO's recent work publishing a new section of its handbook which included guidance on when and how it would consider compliance programs during investigations. 

Sam Tate, sharing his thoughts on crime prevention, said in his view there was a "normalisation of investigations within larger entities" and noted that "this trend would see more and better equipped in-house investigation teams". Sam Tate also commented on the likely growth in the 2020s of both the compliance profession and compliance technology, particularly in relation to management information.   

As regards Brexit, the panel expressed doubts that Brexit would cause anything other than minor disruption in relation to financial crime prevention programs and international investigations.  The trend towards greater information sharing and co-operation between authorities was only likely to expand given recent successes. 

CLL and RPC would like to thank all of the attendees at the event for giving up their time and in particular the panellists. The 2020s will be an exceptional era for financial crime and this panel has shed some light on what the future may hold.