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Two former Serco directors charged with fraud in tagging scandal

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Serco overstated how profitable its tagging contract was with the justice ministry. Photo: Getty

Two former directors of security firm Serco have been charged with fraud over their roles in a scandal involving the electronic tagging of criminals in the UK.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Monday that Nicholas Woods and Simon Marshall had been charged with fraud by false representation and false accounting in relation to representations made to the justice ministry between 2011 and 2013.

In July, Serco was fined £19.2m in the scandal, and the company admitted that Serco Geografix, a subsidiary of Serco, had understated profits from its electronic tagging contracts with the ministry.

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The fine came as part of a settlement with the SFO. The company itself will avoid criminal charges as part of the deal.

Woods, who was finance director of Serco Home Affairs, has also been charged with false accounting in relation to the 2011 accounts of the subsidiary.

Simon Marshall is a former operations director of field services with Serco.

Solicitors acting for Woods said he was “very disappointed” that the SFO had decided to charge him with criminal offences.

“The SFO has spent six years investigating this matter and Mr Woods fully co-operated throughout. He denies the allegations and looks forward to the opportunity of clearing his name.”

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As the investigation remains “active”, the SFO said it was unable to comment further.

The scandal came to light in 2013 when Serco notified the justice ministry of the issue, which saw it understate how profitable the tagging contracts were to the ministry itself.

Serco has already paid the ministry £70m in compensation as part of a 2013 settlement, when the company and G4S, another security firm, were accused of charging for tagging people who were either in jail, dead, or not in the country.

Serco lost the electronic tagging contract the same year.