Judges Rule Serious Fraud Office Powers To Investigate Foreign Companies Are Limited

Britain’s efforts to combat international fraud have been dealt a “serious blow” after top judges ruled powers to investigate foreign companies are limited. Supreme Court judges decided the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) cannot unilaterally demand documents and evidence from a company that does not have ties to the UK; Legal experts said the ruling reinforces the limits on existing British law and may see the SFO seeking new powers from the government to bolster its investigations.

The Supreme Court decided on a two-year legal battle between the SFO and US-based engineering firm KBR, under investigation for suspected bribery and corruption. The UK crime agency issued a section 2 notice, under the 1987 Criminal Justice Act, demanding to see documents held abroad by KB. The firm fought back, arguing the section 2 power could not be applied to potential evidence held outside the UK.

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