• Flexi Group

In a bribery investigation, fraud prosecutors hid misbehaviour materials, according to the court.

The director of the SFO and his staff have been chastised for inappropriate interaction with a private investigator.

Senior prosecutors at the Serious Fraud Office have been accused of withholding critical evidence detailing their wrongdoing in one of their most high-profile bribery cases.

The SFO director, Lisa Osofsky, and top staff have been chastised for improperly communicating with a US private investigator throughout the inquiry.

The SFO had to be forced to release crucial records detailing Osofsky's and her colleagues' dealings with the investigator, a UK court of appeal heard on Wednesday.

A QC representing a British businessman trying to have his corruption conviction overturned has accused top SFO prosecutors of making a "deliberate and sweeping decision" to suppress the records.

Kevin Davis, the SFO's lead investigator, allegedly wiped data on his phone that captured his interactions with Miami-based private investigator David Tinsley on purpose, according to him.

According to Tinsley, senior prosecutors had more than 40 unrecorded conversations or meetings with him.

Darbishire told Lord Justice Holroyde and two other judges that the top prosecutors were "party to an illegal and criminal attempt" to use Tinsley to encourage two defendants to plead guilty, and that these interactions amounted to "malpractice."

The allegations are likely to make Osofsky, a dual US-UK national who took over as SFO director three years ago after working for the FBI and commercial enterprises, even more uncomfortable.

Last year, a court chastised Osofsky and the SFO for receiving “flattering” text messages from Tinsley, who was seeking more lenient penalties for his clients.

According to the judge, Martin Beddoe, Osofsky and other top SFO officials should not have had any interaction with the investigator since he had no legal authority in the investigation.

Beddoe chastised Osofsky for obstructing Tinsley's efforts to get the suspects to confess to their involvement in a global bribery conspiracy.

The SFO has found four businessmen guilty of taking part in a bribery scam organized by Unaoil, a consultancy that paid large payments all around the world for years.

Ziad Akle, one of the aforementioned businessmen, has filed an appeal in order to quash any false allegations. He was sentenced to five years in prison last year after being found guilty of conspiring to make illicit payments to Iraqi authorities.

Tinsley had been engaged by the Ahsani family, who owned and managed Unaoil, to attempt to get them lighter penalties. After confessing their guilt, two Ahsani brothers are set to be punished in a US court this year.

Akle, a former Unaoil manager, claims the SFO rigged his trial by not disclosing the entire amount of its connections with Tinsley, the founder of the Miami-based private investigator business 5 Stones.

"The SFO's activities, in employing Tinsley to contact defendants in an effort to encourage them to drop not guilty pleas behind their attorneys' backs and throughout the trial process, constituted to an abuse of the court's process," Darbishire said.

The SFO's QC, Michael Brompton, told the court that while its interactions with Tinsley were "inappropriate," they were not so flagrant that they jeopardized Akle's conviction.

Tinsley "had little or no impact over the SFO's decision-making," he said, adding that the investigator overstated the nature and depth of his contact with Osofsky in order to bolster his credibility.

The hearing is still going on.

by Flexi Team

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