The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has released its “SFO Strategy 2024-29,” outlining an ambitious plan to tackle financial crime, fraud, and corruption amidst rising casework and technological advancements. The strategic document acknowledges the increasing demands on the SFO and sets forth a comprehensive approach to modernise and strengthen its operations over the next five years.

Rising Challenges and Technological Advancements – The Serious Fraud Office Announce Action Plan

The SFO’s new strategy comes as the agency faces unprecedented challenges. With casework ballooning and the pace of technological innovation accelerating, the SFO has struggled to keep up with demand. The strategy highlights the need for the SFO to evolve into a “strong, dynamic, confident, and pragmatic organisation” capable of responding swiftly and effectively to financial crimes.

Nick Ephgrave, the SFO’s Director, emphasised the urgency of this transformation. “The SFO needs to be seen as a strong, dynamic, confident, and pragmatic organisation,” Ephgrave stated. “This means ensuring that SFO cases progress at a faster rate” and positioning the agency as a “partner of choice domestically and internationally.”

Addressing Vulnerabilities in the Digital Age

The strategy identifies several key vulnerabilities that the SFO must address, including the rise of crypto assets and AI-generated audio and visuals. While these technologies present new risks, they also offer significant opportunities for the SFO. The strategy notes that technological advancements can enhance the efficiency of investigations and prosecutions by making it easier to review evidence, contact witnesses, and support victims.

Leveraging Technology for Better Outcomes

One of the core aspects of the strategy is leveraging technology to improve casework and support the SFO’s expert staff. The strategy outlines specific goals, such as strengthening the agency’s ability to monitor and forecast technological developments, exploring incentives for whistleblowers, and streamlining casework through the use of machine learning and AI.

“We must rethink our existing approach to casework and find ways to support our expert staff in the work which only they can do: unravelling the complexity of financial crime and bringing successful prosecutions,” the strategy stated.

Strengthening Whistleblower Incentives and Covert Capabilities

A significant component of the strategy is the support for a whistleblower reward programme. In February, Ephgrave indicated his backing for such a programme, which incentivises individuals to come forward with critical information. The strategy also includes plans to enhance the SFO’s covert capabilities and improve its ability to work with assisting offenders.

Enhancing Cross-Border Operations

The SFO’s strategy also focuses on strengthening its operations through the use of criminal overseas production orders, which will grant the agency better access to cross-border data in its investigations. This move is expected to enhance the SFO’s ability to pursue complex cases that involve international elements.

New Powers to Prevent Fraud

The strategy highlights the introduction of new powers, such as the “failure to prevent fraud” offence. This measure could hold organisations criminally liable if they fail to prevent fraud by an associated person. This new offence aims to ensure that companies take proactive measures to prevent fraudulent activities within their operations. The Serious Fraud Office are taking a similar proactive approach to other leading UK authority figures including the National Crime Agency.


The “SFO Strategy 2024-29” represents a comprehensive and forward-looking plan to address the evolving challenges of financial crime, fraud, and corruption. By embracing technological advancements, strengthening whistleblower incentives, enhancing cross-border capabilities, and introducing new preventive measures, the SFO aims to become a more agile and effective organisation.

As the SFO navigates the complexities of the digital age, its commitment to innovation and strategic development will be crucial in safeguarding the UK’s financial integrity. With a clear roadmap and ambitious goals, the SFO is poised to tackle the challenges ahead and continue its vital work in the fight against financial crime.