Kevin Zervos, who is about to retire from his post as director of public prosecutions, said in the Department of Justice’s annual prosecutions report 2012, “it would be preferable if the Securities and Futures Commission did not have any prosecutorial responsibility”.
In the director’s overview within the report, Zeros writes: “I am firmly of the view that under our criminal justice system, it is imperative to keep the prosecutorial responsibility separate from regulatory or investigatory agencies, especially when they also possess coercive powers of investigation.”
He added: “To give a law enforcement agency the responsibility for prosecution is a matter of some concern. It could result in such agency becoming judge of its own cause, something that should be avoided.”
Zervos went on to compare the behaviour of the SFC to another regulatory body, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) which does not have prosecutorial powers, stating that “unlike ICAC, there appears with the SFC to be a lack of appropriate internal regulation and policing as well”.
In its defence, the SFC has today released a statement highlighting the legal ordinance under which it was granted the power to prosecute and further arguing the case for its continued ability to do so.
However, the statement also says it has tried to hand cases over to the Prosecutions Division on indictment in the higher courts but that “no case has been taken up”.