U.K. White-Collar Prosecutions Tumble Even as Tip-Offs Surge

Prosecutions for white-collar crime in the U.K. have tumbled by nearly a fifth since 2011 despite a surge in tip-offs of financial wrongdoing and prosecutions of cybercriminals, according to London law firm Pinsent Masons.

The number of white-collar cases prosecuted fell 17 percent to 9,343 last year, according to data obtained by the law firm. Reports of alleged crime jumped 46 percent to 227,726 in the 12 months through March 31, 2014 from a year earlier.

The spike in tip-offs reflects growing concern that financial wrongdoing in the City of London continues to grow despite pledges by banks and other financial-service companies to clamp down on fraud. The first trial for rigging of Libor benchmark interest rates is scheduled to begin this month, years after regulators began investigating the issue.

The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office has been criticized for being too slow in opening a criminal investigation into the Libor scandal. Barry Vitou, a partner at Pinsent Masons, said the surge in tip-offs and simultaneous drop in convictions shows that enforcement agencies are “under-resourced and ill-equipped to deal with the scale of white collar crime.”

The number of prosecutions for cybercrime jumped to 45 in 2014 from 15 in 2011, Pinsent Masons said.