Top of the (fraud) cops: the SFO appoints its new director

05 July 2023

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has appointed its new director.

Nick Ephgrave QPM, a former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, will start his tenure at the end of September this year.

Notably, this is the first time a non-lawyer will be the director of the SFO. The appointment of a non-lawyer may mark a change in approach or strategy for the SFO, which has faced a number of criticisms under the current director. They may being trying to replicate the successes seen at other agencies were a non-lawyer has successfully led criminal prosecutions. It also comes amid intensifying public and Government concern about the scale of economic crime in the UK and how it can best be combatted.

Mr Ephgrave’s experience in bringing criminal cases and leading large law enforcement organisations – as well as expertise developed on the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee and the Sentencing Council – is likely to provide a new perspective to bringing and managing high-profile fraud cases. This appointment may therefore represent an intentional shift in approach for the SFO.

Mr Ephgrave will also have a new arsenal of weapons at his disposal as a result of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, including new “failure to prevent” offence(s), a reformed “identification principle” and expanded powers for “Section 2” Notices. Mr Ephgrave’s early tenure will no doubt be watched carefully to see whether the SFO makes use of these new tools and whether he brings a changed approach that marks a new era in fraud prosecution.

I am honoured to be the next Director of the SFO. The SFO plays a unique and pivotal role in the UK’s response to economic crime. I look forward to building on its recent successes and driving forward work to deliver long-lasting improvements to its operations.

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