3 November 2012
The British Serious Fraud Office has been found out making an unauthorised payoff to a former chief executive.
The National Audit Office has criticised the SFO for a £422,000 package paid to the chief executive when she “unexpectedly resigned”. Her salary was £120,000 together with £27,000 for “benefits in kind” to cover commuting costs and accommodation costs. The irregular payment authorised by the then SFO Director, five days before leaving office, did not have the necessary approval of the Cabinet Office.
The incoming SFO Director asked the Treasury Solicitors Office to conduct an inquiry into the unjustified expenditure. The National Audit Office has now qualified the SFO accounts because due process was not followed in making these redundancy payment arrangements.
The BBC reports that the chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee was “astonished” that the SFO had agreed to the severance payment.
“The SFO showed a total disregard for taxpayers’ money when they wrote out a five-figure cheque … (and) ignored Cabinet Office rules …”