The States are set to vote today on proposals to give extensive legal powers to their new head of financial crime with the shadow of an investigation by the UK Attorney General’s Office hanging over the man already appointed to the job.
In 2021, the Committee for Home Affairs appointed Kevin Davis as the island’s first Director of the Economic and Financial Crime Bureau. He was Chief Investigating Officer at the UK Serious Fraud Office until the end of 2020.
At the States' meeting which started this morning, the Committee for Home Affairs is asking the Assembly to establish the Director of the Economic and Financial Crime Bureau as a powerful statutory office within the island's machinery of government.
Pictured: Deputy Rob Prow, the President of the Committee for Home Affairs, will present the proposed legislation to the States at their meeting which started this morning.
During his time at the Serious Fraud Office, Mr Davis was accused of malpractice by a corporate criminal who recently had his conviction overturned in the UK Court of Appeal. Lawyers for the Serious Fraud Office strongly refuted the claims.
The long and complicated saga revolved around an investigation run by the Serious Fraud Office into Unaoil. The company, based in Monaco, was accused of bribery and corruption and a lengthy trial ended in 2020 with a former manager of the company, Ziad Akle, receiving a five-year prison sentence.
His conviction has since been overturned after “three Court of Appeal judges concluded that the Serious Fraud Office's failure to disclose vital evidence had unfairly led to the businessman being jailed for bribery,” according to a report in The Guardian.
The Attorney General's Office has now told Express: “The Attorney General is deeply concerned about the findings in the judgment and will be discussing the implications with the Director of the Serious Fraud Office urgently.
“The Attorney General has commissioned an independent review of the issues highlighted including disclosure failings at the Serious Fraud Office.”
These disclosure failings relate in part to Mr Davis being unable to provide investigators with text message conversations between himself and a private investigator called David Tinsley, who played a crucial part in the original case against Mr Akle.
The explanation provided was that Mr Davis had accidently wiped his phone by incorrectly inputting his password several times.
According to The Guardian, the Court of Appeal Judges said: “The explanation which has been put forward is that Davis repeatedly entered an incorrect code, which caused data to be wiped from his phone.
“If that explanation is correct, it appears to have been the second time in less than a year that Davis had caused a mobile phone to be wiped and in need of rebuilding.”
Pictured: The Director of the Economic and Financial Crime Bureau works in collaboration with the Police and other law enforcement agencies.
Express asked the Committee for Home Affairs if it expects Mr Davis to be drawn into the investigation being undertaken by the Attorney General's Office.
“It is not considered appropriate for either Home Affairs, or the States of Guernsey, to comment on an independent review involving a specialist prosecuting authority outside of this jurisdiction and outside of our criminal justice system,” said the Committee's Director of Operations, Justice and Regulation, Dave Le Ray.
“Recruitment to posts within the Economic and Financial Crime Bureau is conducted via fair and open competition, following States of Guernsey recruitment policy. Appropriate vetting is always undertaken as part of that recruitment process.”
Mr Davis was appointed Director of Guernsey’s Economic and Financial Crime Bureau as the Committee for Home Affairs put in place preparations for a crucial inspection of the island by MoneyVAL in 2023.
The international body will assess Guernsey’s compliance with standards for combatting financial crime. The Bureau will help prepare the island for the inspection.
The Bureau's annual running costs have not been disclosed – including the costs of around 50 specialist staff posts.
Ahead of today's States' debate on its proposal to make the Director a statutory office, the Committee for Home Affairs said: “The Law sets out the functions of the office holder [currently Mr Davis], which are to investigate money laundering, terrorist financing, sanctions breaches and all other forms of economic and financial crime, to identify and trace the proceeds of crime, to assist the Law Officers with their economic and financial crime functions when requested, and to exercise the powers available to police officers and customs officers under various enactments that are relevant to economic and financial crime.”
Express asked the Committee for Home Affairs if it was concerned about the links between its new Director of Economic and Financial Crime and the investigation now being carried out by the Attorney General's Office and whether that investigation could negatively affect Guernsey’s image ahead of the MoneyVAL inspection.
Express also asked for an update on the recruitment of staff to the Bureau and its running costs.
The Committee has not yet replied to these questions.
The Attorney General's Office told Express to expect further details of its investigation "in due course".
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