Fraud is not a victimless crime. SFO prosecutions can involve hundreds or even thousands of victims, and one of the criteria for deciding which cases to prosecute is its impact on victims.
You are considered a victim under the Victim Rights Act 2002 if you have an offence committed against you.
Your details will be provided to a court victims advisor who will contact you and offer to assist you through the court process.
Our role is not, however, to seek compensation for losses suffered by victims. We do not hold responsibility for some factors that are understandably important to victims, for example deciding penalties and recovering losses. This responsibility lies with the courts. Despite that, we do everything in our power to prevent fraud from continuing or recurring, and to obtain justice.
In our dealings with you we will comply with the principles guiding the treatment of victims as set out in Sections 7 to 9 of the Victim Rights Act 2002 and will:
- Treat you with courtesy and compassion
- Respect your dignity and privacy.
- Listed below are what you can expect from us if you are a victim of financial crime. You can also download this Guide to Prosecutions(external link).
A courteous receipt of your complaint and an ongoing contact person
Prompt acknowledgement of your complaint or query within two working days after we receive it. You will also be given the name and contact details of the person dealing with your complaint and be advised of the next steps.
A prompt response to your initial complaint
Advice on what additional information we may require from you to progress the matter, or a timeframe for our initial inquiries.
A thorough consideration of the complaint
We may informally seek documents or information and, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect fraud, we may exercise our statutory powers to obtain information from other persons. Through every stage of our inquiries, your complaint will be reviewed by either one of the SFO’s Investigations Managers; General Counsel and/or the Director.
An informative response to your complaint
Fraud inquiries are usually complex matters. Our investigations will be determined by the information or evidence that comes to light, and by how the relevant law applies to a particular case. If the matter is not pursued at any point, you will have a thorough explanation of the reasons for our decision and, where appropriate, you will have other options outlined to you.
Ongoing updates regarding the progress of an investigation
We regularly update most of our cases on our website, unless they are confidential. In that case, you will be able to contact the Case investigator for further information. There may be occasions when we can only provide limited feedback on how the information you have provided has been used.
Advice as to the decision made following an investigation
We will contact known complainants and victims at the earliest opportunity when an investigation has concluded. The conclusion of a full investigation can result in three possible outcomes:
- Charges are filed by the Serious Fraud Office
- The investigation concludes that the Serious Fraud Office is not the correct agency to further investigate the allegation, but a referral to a different enforcement or regulatory agency is appropriate
- The investigation does not disclose evidence of offending, and the file is closed.
We will also return any documents received from you during the investigation.
Information about proceedings
You will be given certain information relating to the prosecution of the offence committed against you. This will include:
- What charges have been filed and any changes that are made to those charges.
- What your role entails as a witness for the prosecution.
- The date and place of the defendant’s first appearance in court, any pre-trial hearings and the trial itself.
- The outcome of the prosecution (including conviction, acquittal or a finding that the defendant is unfit to stand trial).
- Assistance with preparation for giving evidence in Court.
Where you are a witness in the trial, the case investigator will contact you regarding your evidence and to assist you with the formalities of the criminal case process. This will include familiarising yourself with the court room and that process of giving evidence. In certain circumstances you may be able to have a support person with you when you give evidence or give your evidence in an alternative way. These matters will be discussed with you before the trial.
If you are a victim, the Court Victim Advisor is available to assist you with providing you with information about the court process.
If a trial date is set, you will be advised as soon as practicable with the date and time for giving evidence, how any costs associated with giving evidence can be met, and will be able to answer any questions you have regarding this process.
Victim impact statement
If the defendant is convicted of the offence there will be a sentencing hearing.
At this hearing, victims have the right to make a victim impact statement. The victim impact statement will help the judge understand how the offence has affected victims and to decide the sentence for the offender.
The victim impact statement provides the opportunity for victims to describe to the court the impact offending has had upon them.
The SFO, or court victim advisor, can assist with the preparation of a statement.
Prompt advice as to the outcome of a trial
We understand the importance of bringing some conclusion to what is often a very demanding and long process. We will not only advise you of the Court’s decision, but also of the sentence imposed and/or any appeals which are lodged. Where it is relevant, our case investigators will also liaise with you regarding giving a victim impact statement for the purpose of sentencing.
The New Zealand Law Society Giving Evidence guide has further information. Also, the Victims Information website offers further guidance.