ODCE investigations led to five arrests last year

Minister confirms 15 charges directed by DPP on indictments concerning ODCE inquiries

ODCE director Ian Drennan. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

ODCE director Ian Drennan. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Five people were arrested and detained arising from investigations initiated by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) last year.

That is according to Minister for Business Heather Humphreys, who confirmed 15 charges were directed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on indictments concerning ODCE investigations in 2018.

Ms Humphreys has also confirmed that in 2018 there were 31 directors disqualified arising from ODCE activity – 24 by disqualification undertakings and seven by court orders.

One prosecution was initiated and two convictions were recorded, while there were 148 restrictions of directors, of which 23 were by court order.

The Minister stated that 29 cautions were issued last year as a result of ODCE activity while 25 production orders were issued under various acts including the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 and the Criminal Justice Act 1994.

Complex investigations

“The ODCE took a decision in recent years to concentrate its resources on more serious and complex investigations, the result of which is usually the submission of a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration, as opposed to a summary prosecution,” Ms Humphreys said.

“In terms of prosecutions, the director of corporate enforcement is only statutorily empowered to initiate summary prosecutions, such as prosecutions of relatively minor offences in the district court.”

“Furthermore, since June 2015, company directors facing restriction or disqualification proceedings before the courts can avoid court proceedings by voluntarily agreeing to be restricted or disqualified for certain periods.”

She said this ensured that company directors who are considered to be in breach of the Companies Act 2014 and facing restriction or disqualification proceedings, are dealt with in an “efficient and effective administrative manner” without the need for the involvement of the courts.

ODCE restructuring

Separately, Ms Humphreys said the ODCE had undergone a restructuring to better reflect its needs in the context of both its strategic shift towards deploying resources towards more serious wrongdoing and the increasingly complex environment within which the ODCE operates.

The ODCE employs 42 people – including seven gardaí assigned to the office. The Minister said the restructuring had involved the recruitment of eight accounting professionals, two enforcement portfolio managers, two enforcement lawyers and a digital forensics specialist, together with significant investment in a digital forensics laboratory, training and development.