SFO welcomes court decision enforcing its secrecy requirements
The Serious Fraud Office has welcomed a court decision confirming the confidentiality of material that was inadvertently disclosed by the agency to the defendants in the National Party donations case.
The material was disclosed recently during the course of the agency’s compliance with its normal disclosure obligations.
The SFO acted with an abundance of care in seeking the court order as one of the parties had reportedly expressed an interest in publishing the material.
The agency believes any publication of the material would have breached the SFO’s secrecy provisions and been contrary to requirements of confidentiality applying to the use of material obtained through court proceedings. However, the SFO sought a court order to ensure there was no doubt that the material remained confidential.
The SFO takes every step necessary to protect the security and confidentiality of material received in the course of an investigation.
Serious Fraud Office
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About the SFO
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act.
The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex 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.
This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy.
The SFO has two operational teams: the Evaluation and Intelligence team and the Investigations team.
The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.
Part 1 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 2 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…”
In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:
- the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
- the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
- the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
- any relevant public interest considerations.
The SFO’s Annual Report 2019 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Integrated Statement of Strategic Intent 2016-2020 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz
The SFO Twitter feed is @SFO_NZ