Scottish Public Finance Manual

The Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM) is issued by the Scottish Ministers to provide guidance on the proper handling and reporting of public funds.

Appendix 1: examples of fraud and bribery

UK Councils lost £7m of contractor and supplier payments that were siphoned off into false bank accounts created by criminal gangs.

Criminals sent in legitimate-looking letters, based on publicly available creditor information, to persuade officials to change account details and redirect payments to different bank accounts. The letters were often followed up by phone calls chasing the supposed payments. 

The SG has responded to this type of fraud by putting tighter controls in place. Vigilance is also very important and if you are involved with payments ensure you are familiar with the updated guidance


£63 million “Black Fish” fraud where skippers and processing firms made widespread false declarations and sold illegal catches of fish.

Logbooks were falsified and digital weighing scales at a processing factory were rigged to underestimate the weight of the fish being landed, evading EU quotas. 

Falsification of information is a risk whenever public funds are available, all staff should be aware of potential attempts to claim money that people are not entitled to, either through fraud or error.


A Royal Navy Officer was dismissed from the service after defrauding the Ministry of Defence of £1,500.

The officer dishonestly claimed for personal expenses twice during a work exchange programme, first paying using an online expenses system and then paying again using a government procurement card.

There are also many ways in which money can be lost through procurement cards scams. These include: cloning (via card readers); pharming – where legitimate online sites redirect to fake websites; and phishing – where criminals obtain account details through emails and phone calls.


A clerk took bribes while working at a London court and became the first person convicted under the Bribery Act, sentenced to three years for bribery and six years for misconduct in a public office.

The clerk took £500 to avoid putting details of a traffic summons on a court database. He was also believed to have supplied drivers with blank invoices from a north London garage to use as false

Back to top