INM inspectors fees reach €550,000 to date, says ODCE

Annual report shows corporate watchdog underspent due to staff vacancies

The State’s corporate watchdog, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), says the fees for the two High Court inspectors appointed to investigate Independent News and Media (INM) have reached €550,000.

In its annual report, published on Thursday, the ODCE says it must "in the first instance" cover the fees accrued so far by Irish barrister Sean Gillane and UK accountant, Richard Fleck.

The inspectors were appointed last year after an application by the ODCE, which is investigating a range of issues at INM but has no powers to compel witness testimony.

The ODCE last year spent €3.7 million, or 72 per cent of its budget, the annual report says. The ODCE says it underspent because of unfilled staff vacancies and because it held back a portion of its budget to cover potential legal costs. The agency’s costs rose by 23 per cent.

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The watchdog says it employed 46 staff at year end, up from 39 staff 12 months previously. This number includes seven members of the Garda on secondment. It hired one extra lawyer last year, two forensic accountants and a handful of new administrators.

The ODCE says it received 247 complaints from members of the public last year about possible breaches of company law, up from 234 the year before.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column