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Obtaining Investigative Assistance Overseas


The SFO Operational Handbook is for internal guidance only and is published on the SFO’s website solely in the interests of transparency. It is not published for the purpose of providing legal advice and should not therefore be relied on as the basis for any legal advice or decision. Some of the content of this document may have been redacted.

Operational assistance overseas can be obtained by a number of routes. This is often referred to as “police-to-police”. The SFO Intelligence Unit can provide advice and assistance to identify the most appropriate route to obtain investigative assistance overseas.

Information may be obtained for intelligence or evidential purposes.

The objective of this section is to:

  • Identify the organisations which may hold relevant overseas intelligence
  • Identify what other international organisations may provide informal assistance and have an impact on our overseas enquiries.

General assistance or guidance in matters relating to Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) may be obtained from the International Assistance Team.


The SFO has developed excellent working relationships with international organisations and other law enforcement and prosecuting organisations overseas. In addition, the National Crime Agency (“NCA”), HM Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”) or other UK agencies with operatives based overseas can provide assistance in obtaining material from overseas on an intelligence basis.


There is no domestic requirement to obtain evidence using a Letter of Request (see the “Obtaining Evidence Overseas” chapter) and whether material obtained by another route can be used as evidence will depend on the laws of the country that provided that material.

Obtaining Overseas Intelligence

Whichever route is used, SFO staff must be aware of the restrictions on the disclosure of SFO information, even for intelligence purposes, and due regard must be given to the Director’s designations under s3(5) CJA 1987. See the “Designations” chapter.

Before using any of the options listed below inform the Head of Policy and Engagement in S&PD.

The options available to case teams are:

National Crime Agency (NCA) International Department

The International Department at NCA is responsible for managing the NCA International Liaison Officer Network, the Europol National Unit and the Interpol National Central Bureau. The NCA Prosperity Command is responsible for the UK Financial Intelligence Unit, through which Egmont requests can be facilitated, and the International Anti-Corruption Co-ordination Centre (IACCC). The NCA coordinates international intelligence enquiries on behalf of UK law enforcement organisations.

NCA International Liaison Officer (ILO)

NCA operates a network of ILOs in countries across the world.


Europol is the European Union’s law enforcement agency based in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its remit is to assist the European Union’s Member States in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism.

Europol acts as a major centre of expertise and as a European centre for strategic intelligence on organised crime.

Europol works with its judicial partner Eurojust, where necessary, coordinating with national prosecuting authorities to speed up the investigative process and bring about cross border prosecutions. Both institutions cooperate closely and meet on a regular basis.

More information about Europol can be found on its website: https://www.europol.europa.eu/

Europol also has its own officers who have no direct powers of arrest but support EU law enforcement colleagues by gathering, analysing and disseminating information and coordinating operations. Europol experts and analysts take part in Joint Investigation Teams and can be deployed in mobile command units in EU countries. Europol personnel also come from different kinds of law enforcement agencies.

Europol Liaison Officers (ELOs) have been seconded to Europol by the EU Member States and a number of non-EU partners, such as Australia, Canada, USA and Norway.

Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization – ICPO)

Interpol is the world’s largest international police organisation, with 187 member countries. Its aim is to smooth international police cooperation. It does this by assisting with police investigations and cases between its member countries, all of whom supply and request information and services from each other. Interpol helps police in member countries share critical crime-related information through a common platform.

More information about Interpol can be found on its website: http://www.interpol.int/

Financial Intelligence Units (‘FIU’)

Overseas intelligence is handled by 151 worldwide members (FIUs) of the Egmont Group (LINK).

The CARIN Network (LINK)

The Camden Assets Recovery Interagency Network (CARIN) is based in Europol headquarters in The Hague. It was initially set up to assist Law Enforcement Agencies to trace and identify the proceeds of crime which may become the object of a freezing or confiscation order.

International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre

The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC) brings together specialist law enforcement officers from multiple agencies around the world to tackle allegations of grand corruption.

The IACCC may:

Inform – which organisations and initiatives can offer assistance

Assist – with practical actions and advice

Collect – information to form a single picture of grand corruption

Coordinate – an effective global law enforcement response

Collaborate – by creating a constructive, cooperative and agreed approach

The centre will improve fast-time intelligence sharing, assist countries that have suffered grand corruption and help bring corrupt elites to justice.

Law enforcement agencies that are participants of the IACCC:

  • Australian Federal Police
  • New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office
  • New Zealand Police
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of the Republic of Singapore
  • UK’s National Crime Agency
  • USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation

Agencies that are planning to join the IACCC later this year:

  • Interpol
  • US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)

Switzerland and Germany were involved in the design and establishment of the IACCC and will remain observers, participating in the IACCC Governance Board meetings as occasion demands. Non-participating law enforcement agencies may refer cases of grand corruption to the IACCC.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Fiscal Crime Liaison Officer (FCLO)

HMRC has a network of FCLOs across the world. Some of these are located in the same countries as NCA’s ILOs, but they have different remits. HMRC’s FCLOs primary responsibility is to facilitate intelligence exchange and support investigations which relate to HMRC’s assigned matters, such as direct and indirect tax evasion.

Contacting Overseas Police

The SFO has built up established relationships with some law enforcement organisations throughout the world, including police officers or the equivalent in overseas organisations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Anti-Corruption Units and Economic Crime Prosecuting Authorities.

Version OGW 1, Published August 2017 © Crown Copyright, 2020.

 This information is licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. To view this licence, visit http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/ or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU.

Any enquiries regarding this publication should be sent to the Serious Fraud Office, 2-4 Cockspur Street SW1Y 5BS email: information.officer@sfo.gov.uk