Alderman gave evidence at Southwark Court in a hearing to consider
whether there had been an abuse of process by the Serious Fraud
Office (SFO) when it issued fraud charges against the founder of
Weavering Capital, a $600 million hedge fund that collapsed in the
wake of the credit crisis in 2009.
The SFO could be forced to drop the high-profile case, which is
scheduled to go to trial in October, if Judge Andrew Smith decides
that Alderman acted unlawfully when he delegated the power to launch
the investigation to Phillippa Williamson, his former chief
operating officer, in 2008.
The hearing was initiated by Weavering's Swedish founder Magnus
Peterson, who has been charged with 16 fraud-related offences
between 2003 and 2009, ranging from false representation to false
accounting, forgery, obtaining a money transfer by deception, fraud
by abuse of position and fraudulent trading. He has pleaded not
Alderman said he had wanted only to make the government agency more
efficient and had asked Williamson, who joined the SFO on secondment
in mid-2008, to review and speed up the process of launching
Though Williamson had started taking decisions about which cases the
SFO should investigate shortly after her appointment, Alderman told
the court that he had frequent meetings and communication with her,
was aware of her decisions and was "heavily involved" in Weavering.
"Ms Williamson would not have taken these decisions had I not given
her the authority to do so," he said. But he conceded that he did
not have any document detailing the delegation of authority.
The case hinges in part on whether Alderman had the power to
delegate decisions to launch investigations, whether delegation was
to the right person and made with appropriate care and whether there
was serious misconduct.
[to top of second column]
Peter Lodder, a senior lawyer for Peterson, said he found Alderman's
answers "deeply disturbing".
"In essence ... we are saying there is an element of almost chaos in
the way the office is run ... You cannot rely on this evidence.
There is no actual firm evidence of this delegation having taken
place — just the assumption it must have happened."
The judge will make his decision over the next few weeks.
However, the argument that Alderman had no right to delegate the
authority to launch investigations has already been discussed at a
separate criminal case decided in the SFO's favor.
Alderman, who left the SFO in 2012, has already been reprimanded by
parliamentarians, who accused him last March of running a "sloppy
and slovenly" operation and agreeing to exotic senior staff packages
and payoffs with scant regard to the public purse or proper
The SFO initially dropped its 2-1/2 year investigation into
Weavering in 2011 but reopened the case under new SFO director David
The decision to reopen the investigation marked one of several
U-turns under Green, who joined a demoralized and under-funded SFO
in April 2012, vowing to prosecute more high-level fraud and restore
faith in the agency.
(Editing by David Goodman)
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