New director Lisa Osofsky confirms her focus on cross-border and corporate cooperation.

By Stuart Alford QC, Nate Seltzer, and Clare Nida

On 3 September 2018, in her first speech, after only one week as head of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Lisa Osofsky laid out her plans for the agency.

Upon announcement of her appointment, Latham identified possible priorities for the new director here. As predicted, Osofsky’s unique cross-border and corporate experience is shaping the SFO’s strategic priorities:

  1. Strengthened cross-border relationships: Osofsky made a number of references to her US experience as a federal prosecutor, and pledged to deepen cross-border relationships as a necessary step to achieve multijurisdictional cooperation and settlements. Her speech also highlighted the need for cooperation with other national law enforcement agencies.
  2. Improved corporate engagement: The agency will engage with corporates and leverage their expertise to enhance the SFO’s intel. Osofsky acknowledged the professionalism of compliance in the regulated sector, and that lawyers, solicitors, and barristers have a lot to offer in fighting crime — an approach indicative of her private sector experience.
  3. Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs): Osofsky reiterated experience with DPAs, the increased international introduction of DPAs, and indicated they would be a core tool for the SFO. However, she warned companies must “ensure the crimes of the past won’t be repeated long after the watchful eye of the prosecutor moves on to another target”. For a summary of global anti-bribery laws and uses of DPAs, download Latham’s AB&C Laws app.
  4. Use of technology: In the same conference that the SFO announced the department is examining 65 million documents in one investigation — more than twice the amount it has ever reviewed for a single probe — Osofsky drew on her previous experience to highlight the SFO’s increased use of technology assisted reviews and development of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  5. An independent agency: Contrary to predictions that Osofsky was a supporter of margining the SFO and National Crime Agency, she affirmed that she would maintain the SFO’s independence and utilise its increased core funding.

Full text of Osofsky’s speech and her plans for the agency can be found here.