Far fewer victims of financial crime are satisfied with the sentences handed to white collar criminals than two years ago, according to a Serious Fraud Office survey.

One of the SFO's aims is to increase public confidence that the perpetrators of financial crime are held to account.

A measure the SFO uses to gauge this is a biennial survey, asking the victims in financial crime cases whether the sentence imposed "fairly reflects the offending that occurred".

While 65 per cent of the victims canvassed in 2012 thought this was the case, this proportion dropped to 38 per cent of respondents in the latest survey. The SFO's target was to maintain or increase the 2012 result.


The SFO could not respond to queries yesterday on the survey, which was conducted for the first time in 2012.

It did note in its annual report, however, that it believes the lower result reflected dissatisfaction among failed finance company investors.

"While our aim is that victims feel that justice has been served, the SFO do not have control over the sentences handed down by the court. This result is reflective of the finance company cases that have played out over the past two years where we understand victims may have considered the sentences imposed did not adequately reflect the impact of the crime on them," the report said.

SFO director Julie Read, in the annual report, said it was a "pivotal time" for the organisation, partly because the "large tranche of work" from the finance company collapses was coming to an end.

Prosecutions begun by the SFO halved in the 2013/14 financial year from 16 to 8, although it opened 30 investigations during the year, the same as the prior period.

The number of complaints received by the SFO jumped by 36 per cent to 595 in the year to June 30.

The annual report noted that this year's figure included complaints that had been received on the phone and could be referred to other agencies.

Survey question:
"The sentence imposed [in a case] fairly reflects the offending that occurred".

• 36 per cent of respondents thought so in 2013/14.
• 65 per cent of respondents thought so in 2011/12.