The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious financial crime, including bribery and corruption.
The presence of an agency dedicated to white-collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption. A specialist agency that uses multi-disciplinary teams such as the SFO is considered internationally as the gold standard for responding to complex financial crime.
The agency’s highly experienced team of about 50 employees is based in Auckland. Most are frontline financial crime investigation specialists who examine possible instances of offending and, where appropriate, prosecute to hold the offenders to account.
The SFO has two operational teams: the Evaluation and Intelligence team and the Investigations team.
The Evaluation and Intelligence team is responsible for the initial evaluation and assessment of complaints, as well as referral to other agencies as appropriate. This unit is also responsible for coordinating external and internal intelligence, and developing the SFO’s contribution to financial crime prevention strategies.
The Investigations team deals with all matters of serious or complex financial crime which the Director has decided to investigate. These might include: general fraud, mortgage fraud, employee theft, procurement fraud, financial markets fraud, bribery and corruption.
The SFO also has a Business Services team which manages all activities relating to strategic planning, accountability reporting, financial management, human resources, IT systems, operational policies, media and communications, conferences and general administration.
The Director of the SFO has statutory powers to compel the production of information and to require witnesses and suspects to answer any questions put to them without recourse to the right to silence.
Minister responsible for SFO
The Government transferred ministerial responsibility to the Minister of Police from the Attorney-General in 2009. The change was made to promote coordination among law enforcement agencies.