Private policing of economic crime presents new opportunities, but there is no substitute for well-funded public policing

1st Winter Symposium in Economic Crime

The launch of new Seminar Series in Economic Crime

Private actors such as businesses and consultancy firms are increasingly in charge of policing economic crime. The rise of private policing of economic crime and its interaction with public policing was the key topic of the first Winter Economic Crime Symposium organised by the ICJS Centre of Counter Fraud Studies on 19th February 2020.

Ten speakers with experience from the public sector, private sector, non-profit sector, and academia focused on how the policing gap created by public sector is filled in by firms, consultancies, and banks. These speakers discussed with more than 60 delegates to what extent is the privatisation of economic crime policing the solution.

In his keynote address, Dr Robert Amaee (the director and founder of Amaee Law, a former Head of Anti-Corruption, Proceeds of Crime and International Assistance at the SFO), set the tone for the discussion. Private actors are a welcomed complement to traditional policing, but to what extent does the privatisation of UK anti-corruption landscape serve public interest?

The interaction between public and private policing was the highlight of the panel on policing corruption consisting of Prof. Elizabeth David-Barrett (University of Sussex), Dr Susan Hawley (Spotlight on Corruption), and Gaon Hart (HSBC). The panel engaged in an in-depth discussion on topics such as collective action, the effectiveness of anti-corruption clubs, and opportunities and barriers of public-private partnerships in fighting economic crime.

For example, discussants highlighted how enforcement authorities rely on internal company investigations to bring home the so-called Deferred Prosecution Agreements. Corporations such as Airbus were able to defer their prosecution by making use of vastly superior technology in the private sector to conduct major global investigation. Without this, public authorities would hardly be able to identify and analyse millions of relevant evidence documents. Yet, as Dr Hawley argued, there is no substitute for well-funded enforcement bodies. Even to get successful settlements, prosecutors need to have a strong hand with enough independently acquired evidence of their own.

The Symposium also included an interview with Dr Branislav Hock (University of Portsmouth), the author of newly published book Extraterritoriality and International Bribery: A Collective Action Perspective (Routledge, 2020).

The discussion on policing fraud, chaired by Prof. Mark Button (University of Portsmouth) focused on a number of case studies suggesting how the private sector is filling the fraud policing gap created by the public sector. Dr Steve Evans (Talking Fraud) presented an in-depth analysis of the public-private interactions in tackling insurance fraud and the role of insurance Fraud Enforcement Department. The audience also learned about the voluntary policing of Petscams, Jack Whitticker (Petscams), and practical aspects of policing economic crime for profit, Matt Wilson (RSM UK).

New Seminar Series in Economic Crime

The last speaker of the event, Dr Anton Moiseienko (Royal University Services Institute – RUSI) was the first speaker of a newly launched Seminar Series in Economic Crime. Dr Moiseienko skillfully set key points of the Symposium in the context of the recent UK Government’s Economic Crime Plan.

The Seminar Series in Economic Crime is a joint effort of the Center for Counter Fraud Studie, Institute of Criminal Justice Studies and Portsmouth Business School – Economics and Finance. The series aims to allow these with expertise and interest in economic crime across faculties, departments, students and local community to come together, share ideas, and engage in collaborative work. For more information on upcoming seminars contact .