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SEP 26 2017
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Investigations by the Serious Fraud Office

INVESTIGATIONS BY THE SERIOUS FRAUD OFFICE

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigates possible instances of serious or complex fraud (which may involve breaches of the Crimes Act 1961, or the Secret Commissions Act 1910).

This note explains what to do if you receive a notice from the SFO under sections 5 or 9 of the Serious Fraud Office Act 1990, requiring you to supply information or produce documents or attend an interview. 

NOTICES TO SUPPLY INFORMATION OR PRODUCE DOCUMENTS

When you receive the notice, you should:

  • Advise senior management
  • Seek legal advice (including as to the validity of the notice, whether you must keep it confidential, and the scope for negotiating a reasonable deadline and format for responding to it)
  • Try to foster a co-operative working relationship with the SFO officers
  • Instruct team members not to destroy any relevant information or documents, and ensure that all automatic destruction processes are halted
  • Consider your other obligations (e.g. advise the NZX, contact clients, notify insurers, issue a press release, convene a board meeting, or commence your own investigation)

 When you respond to the notice, you should:

  • Produce all information and documents specified in the notice (“document” can capture any written material, images, computers, mobile phones, USB drives etc)
  • Not produce any information or documents which are legally privileged to any person
  • Keep a copy of whatever is produced to the SFO (ideally electronic)

NOTICES TO ATTEND INTERVIEWS

 If you receive such a notice, you should:

  • Advise senior management
  • Seek legal advice (including as to the validity of the notice, and privilege)
  • Not discuss the matter with other potential witnesses
  • Arrange for a lawyer to accompany you to the interview
  • Ask for a copy of the recording of the interview to be provided

Your lawyer will be able to help you prepare for the interview with reference to the relevant documents, and advise you how to deal  with privilege or confidentiality issues. 

OTHER INTERACTIONS WITH THE SFO

The SFO also gathers information by other means (e.g. from public sources, from other agencies, and from voluntary provision of documents or voluntary interviews).  It can be helpful to engage with the SFO on a voluntary or informal basis, but doing so can also involve substantial risk. You should seek legal advice before doing so.

ANDERSON CREAGH LAI LIMITED | Andy Glenie | Mobile: +64 21 568 923 | Email: andy.glenie@acllaw.co.nz