[JURIST] A report [PDF text] released Monday by UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith [official profile] recommends longer sentences and increased use of plea bargaining in fraud cases. Estimates have placed the cost of fraud to the British economy at over £14 billion a year. The report, the result of a Fraud Review [official backgrounder] begun last year, also suggests consolidating civil, criminal and regulatory fraud proceedings in a single court specializing in white-collar crime. In a foreword to the report, Goldsmith wrote:
Fraud is not a victimless crime. Work by the Home Office suggests that fraud may be second only to Class A drug trafficking as a source of harm from crime; and there is evidence that fraud funds terrorism, drugs and people trafficking. This government is pursuing a co-ordinated approach to tackling fraud. We have introduced the Fraud Bill which is currently being considered by Parliament and which will for the first time introduce an offence of fraud. We have pledged to introduce a standalone Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows to allow for nonjury trials in a limited range of serious and complex fraud cases. And we also commissioned this review of fraud which has been reporting to me and the Chief Secretary.The recommendations follow several prominent fraud cases in which prosecutors have failed to win convictions, including the trial [Times report] of six men charged with corruption involving the Jubilee Line extension to the London Underground.
The Fraud Bill [parliamentary materials; BBC backgrounder] pending in Parliament would clarify definitions of fraud and allow more cases to be heard by judges rather than juries. BBC News has more. The Financial Times has additional coverage.