There has been much chat about when the Serious Fraud Office, the lead authority for prosecution of offences under the UK Bribery Act, would achieve its first successful prosecution under the Act. That has now happened. Last week (8 December) three executives of Sustainable AgroEnergy Plc were convicted of a variety of offences including under the Bribery Act, in connection with their promotion of investment products linked to plantations in southeast Asia of oil producing trees. The next question is whether this is the beginning of a strong flow of further prosecutions, as the tail of pre-Bribery Act activity works its way through the system and activities in the years since 2011, when the Act first came into force, begin to appear in the courts. The SFO would certainly like that to be the case.
Three men were jailed for masterminding a 23 million pound biofuel investment scam on Monday, in the first convictions by Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) under tough new anti-bribery laws. The Britons were executives or agents of Sustainable AgroEnergy Plc, a company that promoted biofuel investment products linked to southeast Asian plantations of jatropha trees, once considered a wonder plant in the hunt for oil."These three individuals preyed on investors, many of whom were duped into investing life savings and pension funds," SFO director David Green said. The convictions are a welcome break for the SFO, which has been trying to restore confidence in its ability to bring criminals and companies to book after a series of failures in high-profile cases. An inspection report last month found the agency had made mixed progress in tackling its shortcomings.