The Serious Fraud Office has dropped its investigation into Keydata over the disappearance of assets worth £103m from Luxemburg-based vehicle SLS Capital SA due to a lack of evidence.
The SFO launched its investigation in July 2009 but says it does not have enough evidence to prosecute.
An SFO statement says: “After extensive consideration, we concluded we had insufficient evidence to secure a prosecution in this case. As a result, we have decided to focus our efforts on tracing assets of SLS Capital SA.”
Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers discovered the assets were missing from the investment vehicle linked to deceased businessman David Elias.
Foot Anstey solicitor Alan Hughes says the investigation could be reopened if the assets are found. He says: “To successfully prosecute, the SFO needs to know where the assets started, where they ended up and how they got there. Finding them will assist in that process and the SFO may reopen the investigation.”
The SFO’s budget has been slashed by 36 per cent from £51.5m in 2008/09 to £34m in 2010/11.
Fishburns Solicitors partner Harriet Quiney says this reduction could be a factor in the decision. She says: “The SFO will have to focus where it can show results.”