The new boss of the Serious Fraud Office has warned fraudsters hoping to take advantage of the computer failures of banks that she will make the UK an “inhospitable” place for them to conduct crime.
Former FBI lawyer Lisa Osofsky used her first speech in the role to flag that the type of crime which stemmed from this year’s TSB meltdown, which left many customers vulnerable to fraud attacks, should not happen under her watch.
“As head of a crime fighting agency, I am committed to making our country an inhospitable place for criminals like these,” she said in a speech at Cambridge University. “My goal is to make sure our country is a high risk place for the world’s most sophisticated criminals to operate.”
Ms Osofsky, who has prosecuted over a hundred cases for the US government, also reiterated that the white-collar crime agency would remain independent. She last year supported an idea by Theresa May to fold the SFO into the National Crime Agency, to create an organisation that has been dubbed “Britain’s FBI”.
“I started a five-year term with the Attorney General’s support and commitment to maintaining the independence and prominence of this organisation,” she said. “That’s the basis on which I took this job and what I expect to find throughout my tenure.”
Ms Osofsky’s appointment was confirmed in June after months of speculation. She started her role last week and is expected to make a series of changes to the agency, having last year told The Daily Telegraph that the SFO has been on a “knife-edge for years” and had a chequered history of success.
A dual US-UK citizen, she has joined the agency from financial compliance company Exiger and replaces previous head David Green. She has also worked for the Department of Justice, the FBI and Goldman Sachs.
“The SFO I find in 2018 is a different animal from the SFO of my Department of Justice days. And I will be a different kind of director,” Ms Osofsky said.
Her appointment was welcomed earlier this year with CMS lawyer Simon Morris saying at the time: “[The SFO] is shambolic in a way you can’t imagine in the US. If she has a zero-tolerance approach to shambolism then that’s great”.
Author: Lucy Burton