INM inspection terms include removal of data
Issue of payment for the data interrogation to be investigated as well
A proposed payment by INM in March 2015 of a € 1m ‘success fee’ to Island Capital following INM’s sale of its stake in the Australian media group APN News & Media Ltd, will also be subject of the probe. That proposed payment did not proceed.
The terms of reference approved by the High Court for an inspection of INM’s affairs include the reasons for the removal and interrogation in 2014 of the data of 19 people, including INM journalists, executives and former executives and two barristers who were counsel for the Moriarty Tribunal.
The issue of payment for the data interrogation, allegedly made by a company beneficially owned by INM’s major shareholder Denis O’Brien, will also be investigated.
That acquisition did not proceed.
A proposed payment by INM in March 2015 of a €1m ‘success fee’ to Island Capital following INM’s sale of its stake in the Australian media group APN News & Media Ltd, will also be subject of the probe. That proposed payment did not proceed.
The roles alleged played by former INM chairman Leslie Buckley concerning both proposed payments will also be investigated.
The alleged consideration of payment of a fee to Paul Connolly, then a director of INM, in connection with the APN transaction will also be examined. No such payment was made.
Further terms of reference provide for the examination of the response of INM’s Board to protected disclosures made in 2016 and 2017 by former INM CEO Robert Pitt and the company’s chief financial officer Ryan Preston.
Other matters for investigation include whether Mr Buckley had, on dates in 2016 and 2017, or at any other time, unlawfully disclosed ‘inside information’ to any third parties, including Denis O’Brien, within the meaning of Market Abuse regulations.
The inspectors will also probe whether Mr Buckley had, between June and November 2016 or any other time, disclosed to third parties, including but not limited to Mr O’Brien, Dominic Shorthouse and Dermot Hayes, information confidential to INM, including, but not limited, to legal advice. That term includes the response of INM’s board to being made aware of any such alleged disclosure.
The inspectors also have power to require identification of any documents or device passwords which were not provided to the ODCE, notwithstanding requests they should be provided.
The terms provide the inspectors to report whether there have been any breaches of the Companies Act 2014, the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 and the Market Abuse Regulations. The inspectors are empowered to investigate the circumstances of any such breaches and the persons in default.
The inspectors, subject to prior approval of the court after it considers an interim report from them, may also report on any related or other matters and may apply to the court concerning their terms of reference.