The Director of the Serious Fraud Office has the power under section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 to compel any individual or entity to provide the SFO with information or documentation which is believed to be relevant to a matter under investigation. Any individual or corporate body in receipt of a section 2 notice requesting that they attend an interview, or provide information, should seek expert legal advice immediately. Our team have a vast amount of experience in defending individuals facing an SFO investigation.
A Section 2 notice is a serious power and is perhaps the most effective tool in the SFO’s armoury. Often a Section 2 is used as the starting point of an investigation, prior to any arrests or interviews under caution and the information gathered may form the basis of how the case develops from that point. Individuals of note will be invited to a Section 2 interview where they will be compelled to answer the questions asked.
Although answers given under compulsion are not admissible in criminal proceedings, except in exceptional circumstances (due to a suspect’s right to silence) the answers given by clients during a Section 2 interview will certainly inform the rest of the investigation. They will be used by the investigators to settle their position in respect of the individuals of interest, such as who they consider suspects and will move on to interview under caution and who they might wish to use as witnesses.
In addition to their power to compel individuals to attend for interview, a Section 2 notice also gives the SFO the power to compel individuals and corporate entities to deliver up relevant documents and even to submit to a search of premises.
The scope of the Section 2 powers is reinforced by the punishment for a failure to comply. That is a criminal offence punishable by up to six months imprisonment. In addition, the knowing or reckless provision of false or misleading information to the investigators is punishable by up to two years imprisonment. Alternatively, a full and frank participation in the process can see investigators shift their view of an individual away from them being a suspect.
Our initial consultation with you to discuss the details of your case is free of charge, based on this information we will provide you with full details of the costs before we proceed with your case. Please call us on 0808 168 5550 to discuss your requirements, or email us using the enquiry form below.
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