New powers urged to tackle white-collar crime
SUSPECTS IN white-collar crime should be held for up to seven days, the outgoing director of corporate enforcement, Paul Appleby, has suggested.
He has pointed out that suspects in drugs and other offences can be held for up to seven days.
This compares with the 24-hour detention period available to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) and the Garda when investigating serious corporate and financial crime.
A provision introduced by Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter last year allows the 24-hour period to be broken up with periods of suspension during which the suspect is released. This allows answers to questions to be investigated and for the suspect to be re-arrested for further questioning. However, Mr Appleby said this is not satisfactory.
“You might want to put thousands of pages of documents which you have uncovered in your investigation to your suspect but 24 hours is not enough to enable you to do that. Certainly we would like to see a longer period or periods involved. With drug offences and other offences, it is possible to interview suspects for up to seven days. So there is probably more work to be done in that area.”
Mr Appleby is to retire next Tuesday, having spent more than 10 years as director of corporate enforcement. A lengthy investigation by the office into suspected offences at Anglo Irish Bank led to charges being laid recently against three former Anglo executives, including the former chairman, Seán FitzPatrick.
“Overall we have had hundreds of witnesses [in that investigation], many tens of whom were from inside the bank,” Mr Appleby said.
The investigation was a massive undertaking for the agency and and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation because of its scale and complexity. “But we got it to the end line and we have got some decisions out of the Director of Public Prosecutions and obviously she has more files which hopefully decisions will be made on in the next few months.”
Mr Appleby, in an interview with The Irish Times, pointed to newspaper coverage in the US comparing developments with Anglo to the failure of the US authorities to charge anyone arising out of the US banking collapse. He also pointed to recent criticisms of the serious fraud office in London for attempting to investigate serious suspected offences with too much dispatch.