Gardaí visit Anglo Irish offices


Gardaí last night visited the headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank and took away electronic material as part of an ongoing investigation into possible company law breaches at the bank.

It is understood gardaí arrived at the St Stephen’s Green offices at about 7pm and stayed for about an hour.

According to a spokeswoman for the bank, the move was part of an agreed protocol between Anglo Irish Bank and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) in which gardaí acted on a search warrant to examine and remove the electronic material. She added the bank was fully co-operating in the inquiry.

Officers from the ODCE and Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation have been conducting an inquiry into operations at the bank for much of this year.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement yesterday applied in the District Court for a search warrant in connection with the investigation.

In a statement tonight, Anglo insisted computer files which were not handed over cannot be legally used by the director of corporate enforcement Paul Appleby. A spokeswoman stressed the State-run bank was working in agreement with Mr Appleby’s office but said the Companies Acts prevented access to the legally privileged material.

“The bank has been and continues to fully co-operate with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in all aspects of its investigation with a view to expediting the investigation,” she added.

The ODCE and the Garda fraud bureau made a high-profile raid at Anglo in February and took away a considerable volume of material.

The length of their investigation has attracted political attention in recent weeks, leading Tánaiste Mary Coughlan to tell the Dáil last week that the inquiry was “huge”.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said on RTÉ on Monday that he was “frustrated” bankers had not yet been prosecuted over the scandals that have engulfed the sector. “This is a serious investigation in which I believe we need results,” he said of the Anglo inquiry. He added, however, that he could not speed up the investigation or interfere with it.

Anglo, which has been in State ownership since January, had no comment to make on reports today that former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick has failed to meet interest payments of almost €400,000 a month on loans of more than €100 million.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley said today Mr FitzPatrick, who resigned from the board last December, will be pursued for every penny he owes.

“Frankly there should be no preferential treatment for Sean Fitzpatrick,” he said. “He will be pursued for every penny and I’m very confident that the Minister for Finance will do that. He will not spare Mr Fitzpatrick and I don’t think the Irish people would accept that.”