The Insolvency Service Talking Tough?
Boris Becker, once the world number one tennis player (winner of six Grand Slams) is now perhaps one of the most famous former tennis players of the modern era to reside at Her Majesty’s Pleasure after being jailed yesterday by a Judge at Southwark Crown Court.
The Judge acknowledged the humiliation when passing a sentence of in excess of two years but was less impressed with Mr Becker’s humility, reportedly saying:
You have… sought to distance yourself from your offending and your bankruptcy.
While I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility.
Mr Becker, wearing a Wimbledon tie, reportedly looking shocked was then led away clutching a puma bag.
After the recent successful conviction and prosecution the Chief Executive of the Insolvency Service, Dean Beale, has said:
This conviction serves as a clear warning to those who think they can hide their assets and get away with it. You will be found out and prosecuted.
Boris Becker’s sentence clearly demonstrates that concealing assets in bankruptcy is a serious offence for which we will prosecute and bring offenders to justice.
Tough words indeed and other newsflashes that have sprouted in recent times notably on Bounce Back Badness are replete with suggestions the Service is unflinching in dealing with cases of financial misconduct landing on its desks.
But what do the criminal prosecution rates reveal? Do the statistics butter the parsnips?
Insolvency Service Prosecution Statistics
The Insolvency Service prosecution statistics scraped from the Annual Reports reveal that for the last three financial years ending 2021, the number of criminal prosecutions was an average of 143 per year:
- 2020-2021 – 143
- 2019-2020 – 142
- 2018-2019 – 144
On average it seems that the Insolvency Service gets in around 44,000 new cases a year based on the figures for the three years from 2018 through to 2020. So when you consider the figures for the financial years ending in 2019 and 2020, out of c.44,000 new cases that will saunter onto the shelves, the prosecution rate was for both years a notably consistent 0.32%. Does that seem a bit below what one might have anticipated?
How Does It Compare To the CPS
How do the tough words of the Insolvency Service compare with the performance of the Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”)?
If we take the financial year ending in 2020 with an estimated population size of c.68 million people, the CPS notched up 451,046 prosecutions. In other words, the prosecution rate was more than double that of the Insolvency Service at 0.66%. So for the population as a whole, the criminal prosecution rate for the period ended in 2020 was far higher it seems.
Granted the CPS is a government department that trains its sights on pumping out criminal prosecutions whereas the Insolvency Service has a lot more variety spread around its plate. However, does it not seem a little odd that cases that arise from financial mismanagement (and yes misfortune as well) do not have a far higher criminal prosecution rate, or does it highlight that economic crime is simply too low down the pecking order?
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