Charges decision on Anglo by year-end

 

GARDA COMMISSIONER Fachtna Murphy has indicated the criminal investigation into Anglo Irish Bank is reaching a conclusion, saying he expects the DPP to be in a position to decide on the question of criminal charges by the end of the year.

The commissioner said he was aware there was a growing public mood for the two-year investigation to yield results soon. However, the inquiry was complex and fraud investigations of that nature took time. “Our job is to ensure a file goes to the DPP and that he can make an early decision as to whether somebody should or shouldn’t be prosecuted.”

Asked whether files would be sent before Christmas, he said: “I’m not going to put a time on it but I would expect some decisions by the end of the year.”

Speaking at a Garda passing out ceremony at the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary, the commissioner said the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) had already done a “huge amount” of work as part of the joint Anglo investigation.

Some 150,000 e-mails and other communications were being examined and up to 400 witnesses had been interviewed. Some had given statements 150 pages long.

He had twice this week met his senior officers on the case, as well as investigators from the ODCE.

He was satisfied they had the “skills and ability”, including accountancy expertise, needed to advance the investigation. While the DPP’s office had to remain independent of the Garda’s and ODCE’s investigation, the DPP had engaged two senior counsel to advise and liaise with the investigators.

A court case was scheduled for London in November at which the State would request the UK authorities to allow Irish investigators access to Anglo’s UK records for the purposes of aiding the investigation here.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said while people wanted files to be sent to the DPP soon, any banking prosecution had to be grounded in firm evidence.

Also speaking in Templemore, he said “nobody is more annoyed” than Cabinet Ministers over past banking practices. “Unfortunately, outrage and anger is no good in a book of evidence. What you have to get is hard evidence.” On the issue of the investigation concluding, he said: “The sooner the better . . . but it’s entirely a matter for the Garda and ODCE and ultimately the DPP.”

While many commentators had continually pointed out that bankers had been prosecuted in the US but not here, the reality was somewhat different, he said. There had, for example, been no prosecutions relating to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, he said.