High Court judge extends Anglo inquiry by year
The High Court has extended for another year the investigation by the Director of Corporate Enforcement into the 2008 collapse of Anglo Irish Bank.
Criminal trials arising from the inquiry to date also appear unlikely to open until late this year and may not start until next year.
The director had sought a three-year extension of orders allowing retention of documents seized from the bank for the investigation, which began four years ago.
The extension was sought to complete the probe and facilitate what the Director of Public Prosecutions anticipates will be lengthy criminal trials arising from some of the matters being investigated.
The court also heard the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) believed the investigations had disclosed matters that would warrant other decisions by the DPP.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said yesterday he would extend the orders for one year only to January 17th, 2014, as he was anxious to ensure a three-year extension would not result in any reduction in the “intensity” of the probe. He was not suggesting such a reduction would happen, he stressed.
The judge noted investigations had concluded into two of five issues being investigated. If investigations had concluded into all five issues and decisions were taken in regard to all issues whether to prosecute or not, he would have granted the three-year extension as a lengthy trial process would be anticipated, he said.
The judge was told the DPP had brought charges against former Anglo executives in relation to the two issues concerning which the ODCE investigation has concluded.
Former Anglo chairman Seán Fitzpatrick and two former senior Anglo executives, Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer, have been charged arising from the investigation into possible breaches of section 60 of the Companies Act prohibiting a financial institution advancing loans to buy its own shares.
They are accused of unlawfully helping to back investors – including members of Seán Quinn’s family – to buy Anglo shares in 2008. A book of evidence has been served in that case but a process of “mammoth” disclosure of documents by the DPP to the defendants is under way and it is expected it will be some time before a trial date is set. The case will be mentioned before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court next week, when the DPP hopes a judge will be assigned to specially manage the case.
Una Ní Raifeartaigh SC, for the DPP, said the normal waiting period for a trial in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was one year, but that might be reduced if the case was managed by a designated judge.
The normal situation was the defence would seek a trial date after examining disclosed documents but the DPP would not be inactive in that regard, she said.
Arising from the investigation into a second issue – the alleged “warehousing” of loans to Anglo directors in the Irish Nationwide Building Society – Mr Fitzpatrick was charged last month with failing to disclose an arrangement between Anglo and INBS under which the building society loaned him money between 2002 and 2007.
He was also charged with allegedly deceiving the failed bank’s auditors in relation to his personal loans over that same period. A book of evidence in those proceedings may be served in March, Ms Ní Raifeartaigh indicated.
The investigation into the three other issues is continuing although the ODCE considers it is practically complete in all but one of those areas.
Shane Murphy SC, for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, which now includes the former Anglo Irish Bank, said it continued to co-operate with the investigation.