Regina v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Another, Ex Parte Finninvest Spa and Others: QBD 23 Oct 1996

The referral of an approach from the Italian authorities for help to the Serious Fraud Office was not wrong. Where assistance is being given to an authority abroad in relation to an on-going investigation both the letter of request and the draft warrant are likely of necessity to be drawn in wide terms. The 1990 Act ‘created a wholly new scheme for mutual assistance with regard to criminal investigations, a scheme under which it would plainly be necessary to examine altogether more material than would ultimately constitute evidence at any trial.’ and ‘What is under investigation here is, after all, as the respondents point out, a wide-ranging, multi-faceted, international fraud involving far-reaching allegations against a large number of individuals in connection with an even larger number of companies. Considering, moreover, that it is at the investigative stage, one can hardly look to greater particularisation of the offences than is contained in the letter of request. So far from this being a fishing expedition, specific allegations of fact are made concerning the. setting up of an elaborate network of overseas companies and the various ways in which. the false accounting has been committed. The documentation which it is believed will establish or support these allegations is or rather was with C.M.M. Ltd and Mr Mills. In short the request for assistance here is not, as the applicants contend, vague and speculative; rather it is as precise and focussed as such a. request could sensibly be in these circumstances. ‘


Simon Brown LJ, Gage J


Times 11-Nov-1996, [1996] EWHC Admin 142, [1997] 1 WLR 743, [1995] 2 BCLC 585, [1997] COD 94, [1997] Crim LR 213, [1997] 1 Cr App R 257, [1997] 1 All ER 942




Crime (International Co-operation) Act 1990, European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters 1959


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedEnergy Financing Team Ltd and others v The Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Bow Street Magistrates Court Admn 22-Jul-2005
The claimants sought to set aside warrants and executions under them to provide assistance to a foreign court investigating alleged unlawful assistance to companies in Bosnia Herzegovina.
Held: The issue of such a warrant was a serious step. . .
CitedCorner House Research and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v The Serious Fraud Office HL 30-Jul-2008
SFO Director’s decisions reviewable
The director succeeded on his appeal against an order declaring unlawful his decision to discontinue investigations into allegations of bribery. The Attorney-General had supervisory duties as to the exercise of the duties by the Director. It had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice

Updated: 26 May 2022; Ref: scu.87815