Britain's Serious Fraud Office To Review Victor Dahdaleh Trial Collapse
By m rochan | December 12, 2013 11:17 PM EST
Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it would examine the circumstances that led to the collapse of a major corruption trial, in a bid to restore confidence in its ability to handle high-profile cross-border cases.
A day after the SFO abandoned the prosecution of British-Canadian businessman Victor Dahdaleh, a prominent Labour Party donor, the agency said it would look into what went wrong with that trial.
"As with all our casework, the SFO will undertake a full review of the circumstances of this case with a view to learning any lessons that can be applied to future cases," the fraud office told Reuters.
"It (the Dahdaleh case) obviously doesn't help the SFO at all - but I don't see it as the straw that breaks the camel's back," said Alistair Graham, a partner at law firm Mayer Brown.
"The big test will be Libor and on the outcome of the Tchenguiz case - those are the real issues. This is a wound, but it is not a fatal wound," Graham told the news agency.
A key suspect in the Libor case, Tom Hayes, will appear in court in London on 17 December. Hayes, a former UBS and Citigroup trader, allegedly connived with 22 staff from at least 10 banks and brokerages to manipulate rates between 2006 and 2010.
The SFO was forced to call of its prosecution of Dahdaleh on 10 December, after a key witness changed his evidence and after two important witnesses from the US refused to attend the London trial.
At Southwark Crown Court in central London, Philip Shears, the lead counsel for the prosecution, said the SFO would not present any evidence against Dahdaleh.
That forced the judge to ask the jury to return verdicts of not guilty on all eight charges.
Dahdaleh had been accused of paying bribes of $67m (£41m, €48m) to former managers of Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), the world's fourth largest aluminium smelter, and to a member of Bahrain's royal family in return for contracts worth $3bn (£1.8bn, €2.2bn).
The Dahdaleh investigation is similar to the SFO's case against property tycoons Tchenguiz brothers, which crumbled in 2012 after the brothers' successful legal challenge to warrants issued against them in connection to the collapse of Icelandic bank Kaupthing.
The brothers accused the SFO of over-reliance on a report by Grant Thornton, which they claimed had a conflict of interest -- the advisory firm was Kaupthing's receiver and was also fighting a £2bn civil lawsuit with the brothers.
The brothers are suing the SFO for £300m.
SFO head David Green is banking on the success of "top tier" probes, such as a global inquest into the rigging of Libor, to restore confidence in the agency's crime-busting capabilities.
In October, the SFO revealed in court that over 22 people could face criminal charges related to the manipulation of Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate).
Earlier, the SFO charged Hayes with eight counts of fraud, in connection with criminal investigations into the manipulation of Libor.
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