SFO rebuild helps bring integrity to NZ’s financial markets

Published

SFO rebuild helps bring integrity to New Zealand’s financial markets

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) today said two recent surveys highlighted the positive impact rebuilding the SFO has had in helping to bring back public confidence in New Zealand's financial markets.

Independent research conducted by MMResearchTM Limited surveyed complainants and victims of fraud and corruption, as well as the general public.

In a first ever survey of complainants and victims of financial crime found that 97% agreed that the work of the SFO was helping to bring integrity to New Zealand's financial markets, while a survey of the general public found that 66% agreed that SFO did a good job bringing offenders to account.

SFO Chief Executive, Adam Feeley said, "These results are the collective result of the SFO, Police, Financial Markets Authority and other agencies working together to ensure that we build New Zealand's reputation as a safe place to invest and do business."
Mr Feeley also said that, even with the investigations into finance companies largely concluded, the SFO would have to continue to work alongside other agencies, to reassure the public that where financial crime is found, prompt and efficient action will now be taken.

"In the last financial year we commenced 40 new investigations, none of which were related to finance companies, and half of which were jointly worked on with other agencies. The conclusions from this are obvious. Financial crime will continue long after the finance companies are dealt with, and an effective response to it will depend on the SFO working in partnership with other public sector agencies, and with strong support from professional service firms, and the business community."

ENDS

For further information

Andrea Linton
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Complainants and Victims Survey:

  • Benchmark survey undertaken in June 2012
  • Conducted by independent company MMResearchTM
  • Request for participation by formal letter to 62 contacts
  • Privacy and anonymity of respondents
  • 36 responses by post, online or phone.
  • Respondents were then given a range of propositions to agree or disagree with.
  • Results below represent those who agreed or strongly agreed with the stated proposition as a percentage of those who agreed; strongly agreed; disagreed; strongly disagreed; or were neutral. "Don't know/not applicable" were discounted.

Proposition % Agree
The actions of the SFO helps ensure that offenders are being held to account 100
The work of the SFO helps bring integrity to New Zealand's financial markets and/or legal system 97
I was treated with courtesy and respect by the SFO 91
My concerns were understood and considered by the SFO 89
The SFO compares favourably to other public sector agencies (if any) I have dealt with 87
SFO helped me understand the investigation and/or trial processes 80
The sentence imposed fairly reflected the offending that occurred 65

Public Trust and Confidence Survey:

  • Survey undertaken in June 2012
  • Conducted by independent company MMResearchTM
  • Sample of 614 respondents
  • 18 + years
  • Use of an online panel
  • Pre-screening for awareness of SFO
  • 79% of respondents were aware of SFO, with recognition significantly higher in the 45+ years and older groups.
  • Those who were aware of the SFO were then asked to rate their trust and confidence in SFO. The results are summarized below with comparative ratings from other agencies

Level of trust and confidence SFO % Police % Commerce Commission % FMA %
Full 14 25 11 7
Quite a lot 45 49 39 31
Some 24 17 30 38
Not much 5 5 5 8
None 1 2 2 4
Don't know 12 1 14 12

  • Respondents were then given a range of propositions to agree or disagree with.
  • Results below represent those who agreed or strongly agreed with the stated proposition as a percentage of those who agreed; strongly agreed; disagreed; strongly disagreed; or were neutral. "Don't knows" were discounted.

Proposition  % Agree
I have trust and confidence in the SFO  67
SFO does a good job bringing offenders to account  66
NZ is a safe place to invest  53
Those who commit financial crimes are held to account  44
NZ is largely free of serious corruption  42

Role of the SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.

The SFO operates three investigative teams:

  • Fraud Detection & Intelligence;
  • Financial Markets & Corporate Fraud; and
  • Fraud & Corruption.

The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part I of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director "has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud."

Part II of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: "...the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed..."

The SFO's Statement of Intent 2012-2015 sets out the SFO's three year strategic goals and performance standards. It is available online at: www.sfo.govt.nz