The new director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has ordered his agency to abandon its case against Serbian businessman Vuk Hamović. Richard Alderman, who took over the SFO last month, dropped the corruption case against the long time chairman of Energy Financing Team (EFT), a London based energy trading company that has done extensive work in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
‘We’ve dropped the case because the legal advice that we got suggested that the possibility of a successful prosecution was not high’ said SFO spokesman Sam Jaffa. In the UK, prosecutors must take cases where the chance of a successful prosecution exceeds 50 percent, indicating this case may not have met that level.
Jaffa said an independent assessment arranged by the Attorney General’s office looked at evidence, witness testimony and other information and talked with the SFO case team. The independent assessors disagreed with an SFO team conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Hamović. The case was complicated by the fact that the alleged crimes were committed before a 2001 corruption act was passed. The SFO team believed the case could be prosecuted under an earlier 1906 Prevention of Corruption Act.
Hamović was being investigated by Bosnian prosecutors and later the SFO for alleged bribery relating to lucrative deals with the state electrical company in Montenegro that earned his company at the time millions of dollars in a short period of time. A spokesman for Hamović defended the deals saying the Serbian businessman added ‘liquidity to the system.’
With the earlier Bosnian case dropped, the closure of the SFO case leaves Hamović clear of any investigations.
‘I can’t foresee an event that will lead us to restart this investigation’ Jaffa said.
An EFT spokesman, who has previously denied any wrongdoing, referred to a written statement which said ‘We are obviously delighted that the unwelcome distraction of this matter has now ended.’