Two former Serco directors have been charged with fraud and false accounting following an investigation into its electronic tagging contract with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
Former finance director of Serco Home Affairs, Nicholas Woods, and former operations director of field services, Simon Marshall, have been charged with “fraud by false representation and false accounting in relation to representations made to the MoJ between 2011 and 2013”, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed.
Woods has also been charged with false accounting in relation to the 2011 statutory accounts of Serco Group subsidiary, Serco Geografix (SGL).
The SFO said it could not comment further on the charges as the investigation is still active.
A Serco spokesperson said: “Serco notes the decision of the SFO to charge two former employees of Serco in relation to events which occurred between 2011 and 2013. Neither of the individuals charged have been employed by Serco since 2013.”
In 2013, the SFO launched an investigation into the contract after it emerged Serco had been over-billing the MoJ by millions of pounds for electric tagging services which weren’t taking place.
This included charging for people who were back in prison and had tags removed, people who had left the country and those who had died, dating back to 2005.
Earlier this year, Serco agreed to pay the MoJ £19.2m under a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA). This followed a previous civil settlement payment of £68.5m in 2013.
The SFO said SGL had “taken responsibility” for three offences of fraud and two of false accounting. The offences had arisen from “a scheme to dishonestly mislead the MoJ as to the true extent of the profits being made between 2010 and 2013 by SGL’s parent company, Serco Limited, from its contract for the provision of electronic monitoring services”.
In July 2019, Rupert Soames, Serco Group chief executive, said those currently running the business were “mortified, embarrassed and angry”.
“Serco apologised unreservedly at the time, and we do so again,” he said.
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.