High Court to be updated on Anglo Irish investigation
THE HIGH Court will be updated today on what progress has been made in the 3½-year investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) into the collapse of former Anglo Irish Bank.
The hearing is before Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who observed last January that the investigation appeared to be taking “a very, very long time”, but agreed to extend it to today.
The ODCE is investigating five issues. Mr Justice Kelly was told in January that 150 files had at that point been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and that the investigation into two issues was complete and the rest were “substantially complete”. The judge remarked the investigation, while hugely complex and dealing with a wide variety of criminal offences never considered before here, still seemed to be taking “a very, very long time”.
He also said he was “taken aback” to hear just 11 gardaí were seconded to the ODCE inquiry to work with eight ODCE officials into the “largest and most serious” investigation in the State’s history. While that number of gardaí seemed extraordinary in the context of the investigation, he noted the ODCE believed it was enough to ensure the inquiry proceeded at “reasonable” speed.
The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation is conducting a parallel investigation into Anglo. Late last year it sent a file to the DPP on back-to-back deposits which Anglo undertook with Irish Life Permanent in September 2008.
The ODCE inquiry is essentially complete with regard to two issues – the provision of a loan to an Anglo executive director in late 2008 and the bank’s failure to maintain a register of transactions with its directors and persons connected with those directors.
Large files have been sent to the DPP on those matters (which do not relate to current officials of Anglo, renamed the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation). The investigation into the remaining three issues, including loans by Anglo in mid-2008 to certain parties to buy its shares, was “substantially complete”, the court heard.
A file was sent to the DPP last January on a fourth issue relating to transactions by Anglo directors and the suspected provision by Anglo officers of false or misleading information to the bank’s auditors. Further investigative work on that issue was necessary due to the unexpected length of the engagement with “reluctant” witnesses, the judge was told.
Completion of the investigation into the fifth issue – whether alleged false or misleading information in some Anglo financial and interim management reports breached the EU transparency directive – awaited finalisation of the investigations into the other four issues.
Mr Justice Kelly was told in January the delay in fully completing all five strands of the investigation arose from several factors, including the reluctance of persons regarded as key witnesses to provide statements.
Progress had been made following enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2011 providing for reluctant persons to be compelled to provide certain documents and information, the court was told.
The ODCE investigation began after millions of files were seized from the bank in February 2009.
High Court orders are required to allow for an extended power of seizure over those documents while the court must also be kept informed of the progress of the investigation.