ATTORNEY GENERAL’S GUIDELINES ON PLEA DISCUSSIONS
IN CASES OF SERIOUS OR COMPLEX FRAUD
These Guidelines set out a process by which a prosecutor may discuss an
allegation of serious or complex fraud with a person who he or she is
prosecuting or expects to prosecute, or with that person’s legal representative.
They come into force on the 5th day of May 2009 and apply to plea discussions
initiated on or after that date.
A2. The Guidelines will be followed by all prosecutors in England and Wales when
conducting plea discussions in cases of serious or complex fraud. For the
purposes of the Guidelines, fraud means any financial, fiscal or commercial
misconduct or corruption which is contrary to the criminal law. Fraud may be
serious or complex if at least two of the following factors are present:
The amount obtained or intended to be obtained is alleged to exceed
There is a significant international dimension;
The case requires specialised knowledge of financial, commercial, fiscal or
regulatory matters such as the operation of markets, banking systems,
trusts or tax regimes;
The case involves allegations of fraudulent activity against numerous
The case involves an allegation of substantial and significant fraud on a
The case is likely to be of widespread public concern;
The alleged misconduct endangered the economic well-being of the United
Kingdom, for example by undermining confidence in financial markets.
Taking account of these matters, it is for the prosecutor to decide whether or
not a case is one of fraud, and whether or not it is serious or complex.
A3. The decision whether a person should be charged with a criminal offence rests
with the prosecutor. In selecting the appropriate charge or charges, the
prosecutor applies principles set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors (“the
Code”). Charges should reflect the seriousness and extent of the offending,
give the court adequate sentencing powers a