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New Serious Fraud Office head launches recruitment drive

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New Serious Fraud Office head launches recruitment drive
A sign is displayed in an unmarked Serious Fraud Office vehicle parked outside a building, in Mayfair, central London March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning   -   Copyright  Andrew Winning(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) – Lisa Osofsky, the new head of the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO), has launched her first organisational overhaul since taking the helm of the country’s top white collar crime prosecutor with a recruitment drive for two senior specialists.

The SFO said on Thursday it was seeking candidates for two new roles – a Head of Intelligence to proactively source new cases and a Head of Corporate Services to manage finance, human resources and procurement – to help boost efficiency.

The move, described as “clearly sensible” by one lawyer, is designed to free up the Chief Investigator and the General Counsel to refocus on their core strategic and legal roles and help “progress our cases at pace”, Osofsky said.

Osofsky, a former U.S. federal prosecutor who succeeded David Green last month, said she was under no illusions that many factors were outside of the SFO’s control.

“But we should always be open to challenging ourselves to do better where we can, and enabling the Chief Investigator and General Counsel to focus more on their specialist areas are steps in that direction,” she added.

Green was praised by politicians for securing high-level deferred prosecution agreements and filing unprecedented criminal charges against Barclays <BARC.L> and former top executives over alleged wrongdoing in 2008.

But the charges against Barclays were thrown out by a London court in May, prompting the SFO to take a rare decision to apply to the High Court for permission to try and resurrect its case.

Other cases have also made little public progress, such as bribery investigations related to drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L> and investigations into individuals associated with aero engine company Rolls-Royce <RR.L>.

The SFO, which is separately seeking a successor for General Counsel Alun Milford, said it was also bringing in respected Peter Pope, a partner at U.S.-headquartered law firm Jenner & Block, as a secondee to help build relationships with overseas authorities and advise in case reviews and on compliance.

Milford plans to leave in December for law firm Kingsley Napley after six years at the SFO.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley, Editing by William Maclean)

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