The SFO inquiry into the Indie affair seems to be on the verge of collapse, says Andy Cook
"SFO threw £40m away on my fraud case." That was the headline of a story that ran in last Sunday's Observer. It was the tale of Wickes finance director Trefor Llewellyn and how the Serious Fraud Office brought him and two other former Wickes executives to court over an alleged £20m fraud.
In short, Llewellyn reckons that the SFO wasted public money bringing him and his colleagues to court. The executives were found not guilty of fraudulent trading and making false statements to auditors.
All very interesting, but what has it got to do with insurance. Well, word reaches me from the SFO that decisions regarding Independent Insurance are due. Indeed, the SFO says that in just three weeks it will have made its decision whether or not to prosecute the directors of Independent.
Reading between the lines, the prospects for a trial seem remote.
Shortly after the collapse of Indie, the SFO privately said that it would be able to make a decision on whether to prosecute in just a few months. This seemed promising for those seeking a day in court with the directors. But now the few months have turned into many. The case has been more difficult to prove than was imagined. In fact, the SFO even put a team in the Minster Court offices of Indie run-off Aurora.
The Wickes fiasco will have hurt at senior levels within the SFO and the appetite for another high profile court case could well be diminished. Indeed, a formal review of how the SFO decided to bring the case is on the cards.
I fear that the SFO has suffered a crisis of confidence and that Insurance Times, along with fellow creditors, will never get to the bottom of what really happened at Indie.