It might be possible to pinpoint the SFO mistake here:
Less than a month after taking up the role as director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Lisa Osofsky received a text message that kicked off a series of events leaving her fighting for her job and reputation.
It led to an unfair trial as Osofsky and colleagues tried to cut a backroom deal. Her decisions have mired the UK’s white collar crime agency in yet another controversy – despite the American being tasked with transforming the beleaguered body.
It’s that word, “American”. So, she’s done Harvard Law, deputy something for the FBI. Steeped we might say in the American manner of doing criminal law. Plea bargains and stitch ups that is.
Tinsley was acting as a fixer for the founding Ahsani family of Unaoil, an oil and gas consultancy at the centre of a multimillion pound bribery probe by the SFO. He offered to help secure a guilty plea from Ziad Akle, an executive at Monaco-based Unaoil who he didn’t represent, in return for a more lenient deal for his own clients.
Last year Akle was handed a five-year jail sentence after being found guilty of conspiring to bribe an Iraqi official to secure an oil deal.
But last week, the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction after finding that the 46-year-old did “not have a fair trial”. It said the SFO had “handicapped the defence”.
The blistering ruling has forced Attorney General Suella Braverman to launch an investigation into the agency’s handling of the case, leaving Osofsky under a darkening cloud.
We don’t do criminal law that American way. The courts won’t allow it. The mistake therefore was to have someone in that American tradition trying to run the prosecution authority here in England.
It’s like the difference in the meaning of the word “pissed”. Once we get over the past tense of to micturate it has entirely different meanings in English and American. So too with other parts of life – like how we prosecute criminal cases.