How I went from ‘the tea girl’ to Britain’s fraud enforcer in chief: Outgoing SFO boss hails success of her all-female team
The outgoing boss of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) will tonight hail her career progression from tea girl to head of an all-female team that won a massive corruption case against Glencore.
Lisa Osofsky, who is stepping down as director in the summer, will also highlight the rise in the number of women among the SFO’s top ranks.
In remarks to be made at a ceremony in Washington DC, the 61-year-old will note she inherited an all-male leadership, which in the course of her four-year tenure evolved to be led ‘70 per cent by women’ including all its executive committee members.
Fraud buster: Serious Fraud Office boss Lisa Osofsky (pictured) is is stepping down as director in the summer
Receiving the Women’s White Collar Defense Association champion award, she will say she is ‘passionate’ about inclusion.
As a trainee, work involved ‘notetaking and making tea as the tea girl for case conferences’, she will say, and when she qualified in 1997 female barristers had only been allowed to wear trousers in UK courts for two years.
‘Coming in from the outside – first as a woman in law enforcement, then an American in London, then the first British-American to lead the SFO – has only strengthened my belief in the importance of diversity in all its forms,’ she will say.
Osofsky, a former FBI lawyer, will stress the success of the case against Glencore, which was ordered by a judge to pay £281million – ‘the largest financial penalty the UK has ever seen’ imposed on a company.
‘The tabloids loved it and led with the header “Girl power”,’ Osofsky will say, adding that, as a woman in a male-dominated profession, such a conviction secured by a female team ‘hits a whole other octave’.
‘I want differing opinions, I want challenge, I want to avoid group think,’ she will say. ‘And, as we all know, you can only achieve this by hiring a range of people from different backgrounds.’
Her tenure has not been without controversy. Convictions of three executives at energy group Unaoil were overturned as they did not get a fair trial, and a case against former Serco executives collapsed in April.