Serious Fraud Office draws up list of big-name candidates for top role

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is targeting some of the biggest private practice names in white-collar crime to replace director Richard Alderman when he retires in April next year.

The body has drawn up a shortlist of potential candidates for the role, including Dechert litigation partner Neil Gerrard – who is currently in dispute with DLA Piper over his exit from his former firm – and ex-Simmons & Simmons partner Louise Delahunty (pictured), who is now a counsel in Sullivan & Cromwell’s London office.

The successful candidate can expect to earn a salary of around £120,000 – roughly 25% less than Alderman’s current salary of around £160,000.

Other names the organisation is targeting include former White & Case partner Margaret Cole – now director of enforcement at the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – Stephenson Harwood litigation partner Tony Woodcock, Ken MacDonald QC of Matrix Chambers, FSA chief criminal counsel David Kirk, Helen Garlick of 18 Red Lion Court and Crown Prosecution Service central fraud chief Sue Patten.

The SFO is also considering internal candidates, including its head of anti-corruption Satnam Tumani, as well as the body’s ex-GC Vivian Robinson, who is now at US law firm McGuireWoods.

It is unclear how many of those on the SFO’s wish-list have already been contacted; however, the body is likely to face a challenge to attract a replacement for Alderman until a decision is made on the office’s future. The UK Government is expected to make a decision on whether or not the SFO will be merged into a new National Crime Agency next year.

One former investigator commented: “Nobody is that keen until the future is sorted out – the reduced pay package will not help.”

The news comes as the SFO has seen the latest in a string of departures, with head of investigations Keith McCarthy – a tax specialist formerly of HMRC – leaving the body to take up an in-house role at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

For more, see: White-collar crime lawyers on alert as threat of SFO break-up recedes – but is split just delayed?