The fraud agency said that following a “detailed review of the available evidence” it had concluded that “this case did not meet the relevant test for prosecution as defined in the code for crown prosecutors”.

De La Rue, one of the oldest listed companies on the London stock market, issued a separate statement saying that the SFO had “decided to discontinue its investigation into the group and its associated persons”.

Figures disclosed to the Times under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the SFO has spent at least £32m on investigations that failed to lead to a prosecution over the past decade. However, a spokesperson for the SFO said that the cost of these cases was outweighed by recoveries and deferred prosecution agreements.

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