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NGOs send SFO letter to David Cameron

The Bond Anti-Corruption Group, a group of NGOs including Transparency International UK, has written to the Prime Minister to express our concern at the current proposals for replacing the Serious Fraud Office. The text of the letter is below.


25 May 2011

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing on behalf of the Bond Anti-Corruption Group, to express our concern in the strongest possible terms at the current proposals for replacing the Serious Fraud Office.

We are a group of leading British NGOs working internationally and witnessing the devastating effects of corruption on poor communities every day.   It is our experience that supply-side bribery by companies is a significant part of the problem.  It is also our experience in jurisdictions around the world that the kind of measures reportedly being considered by your government are likely to be severely detrimental to the fight against corruption and the effective implementation of the new Bribery Act.

A weakened enforcement system in the UK will perpetuate and exacerbate this problem.  We believe the Home Office’s current reported proposals would represent a significant weakening in the system and should not be countenanced by a government that is serious about fighting corruption.

More specifically, we believe that there are three key principles in successful anti-corruption activity by governments:

  1. Investigation and prosecution teams should be combined in the same agency
  2. Corruption must be a top priority for that agency, and not simply one amongst many
  3. There must be specialist corruption teams in such an agency.

In the absence of a credible alternative to the Serious Fraud Office, that enshrines these principles, then the Serious Fraud Office should not be abolished.  Given the significance of this issue, we fell strongly that any proposed changes should be put out for a formal public consultation.   Meanwhile, the uncertainty is already causing great and unnecessary damage.  We regard your decision as a litmus test of your government’s anti-corruption commitment, and we will continue to monitor closely the effectiveness of the Bribery Act’s implementation over the coming months and years.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Bain Director, CAFOD Simon Taylor Director, Global Witness, Nicholas Hildyard Director The Corner House, Matthew Frost Director, Tearfund Chandrashekhar Krishnan Executive Director Transparency International UK

The Bond Anti-Corruption Group, comprising CAFOD Christian Aid, Corruption Watch, Global Witness, The Corner House, Tiri and Transparency International UK is part of the Bond Governance Group, representing 67 UK-based NGOs.  Founded in 1993, Bond is the membership body for UK international development organisations www.bond.org.uk

The letter can be downloaded in PDF format here

 

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