Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Extract from yesterday's Hansard

13 Jun 2006 : Column 116


Lord Avebury: My Lords, while the Serious Organised Crime Agency rightly concentrates on fraud committed in this country, will it also have a remit to deal with the many criminals who seek asylum or refuge in this country, having defrauded the taxpayers in their countries of origin? I am thinking particularly of Nigeria, from where many public servants who have defrauded the Nigerian taxpayer of large sums of money have sought to settle in this country. I know that they have been pursued by the British police and that some of them have been returned to Nigeria, but is the Minister satisfied that robust arrangements exist between our authorities and those in Nigeria for detecting this particular kind of crime and returning the assets to those who own them?

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, the noble Lord raises a very important point and more generally the question of the efforts that we can make not just in helping to return stolen assets from foreign countries, particularly in Africa, but in helping to deal with corruption in those countries. That is important. I do not think that that is so much a responsibility of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, but it is something that certainly the Government look at and are taking steps to deal with. As for international crime more generally, SOCA most certainly will be looking at the international effects of crime on this country. Its primary approach will be to look at what causes the greatest harm to this country, which includes things that happen overseas, and to seek in different ways to deal with that.

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