Exchanges show how American prosecutors stymied British efforts to extradite key suspect

British anti-corruption investigators accused their US counterparts of deceiving them during a row over a criminal inquiry that threatened cooperation between the countries and prompted the UK to complain that “we look like fools”.

The extraordinary dispute is laid bare in a series of confidential exchanges, seen by the Guardian, between senior levels of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which prosecutes large-scale bribery and corruption, and the US Department of Justice.

Related: Serious Fraud Office faces questions over decision to drop bribery investigation

Related: Judge rebukes SFO boss over 'flattering' texts from private detective

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