The Director of Corporate Enforcement said today that investigation
of Anglo Irish
Bank "has made substantial progress" after 30 months.
Slow-motion is the default mode in the Irish
governance system and of course there are always excuses.
It took two years
after the issue of the State banking guarantee for the then Government to
seriously tackle the banking crisis but then it was too late and the country had
agreed a a bailout programme 2 moths later.
It has taken 2 public tribunals on corruption
almost 14 years to finalise their investigations and one of them has yet to
Paul Appleby, the Director of Corporate
Enforcement, today published his Office’s Annual Report for 2010.
from the Report include:
the submission by the year end
of one complete file and a further three reports to the Director of Public
Prosecutions (DPP) in relation to our ongoing investigations into Anglo.
(Since the year end, the ODCE says a further substantial investigation file
which is about 90% complete has been sent to the DPP. In addition, the Garda
Bureau of Fraud Investigation submitted papers to him in late 2010.);
the determination of over 1,800
complaints and reports in 2010, a 26% increase on 2009;
the volume of reports from liquidators in
respect of insolvent companies rose to 1,310 in 2010, a 50% increase on
The Office also made a major submission to
the Department of Justice and Law Reform in response to its Discussion
Document on white collar crime.
Other notable results from the year include:
the restriction of 156 directors (up from 108
in 2009) and the disqualification of eight directors (12 in 2009), on foot
of liquidator actions;
the issue of some 24,000 copies
of various Office publications during the year;
attendance by Office staff
at 71 public engagements and events attended by some 2,400 people
highlighting the importance of compliance with company law;
a total of eight criminal convictions (and
two further charges taken into account) and one disqualification for various
breaches of company law and duty. Some 17 other cases were ongoing before
the Courts at the end of 2010;
expenditure of €3.67 million, a 37% decrease on expenditure in 2009, due
mainly to a sharp drop in legal expenses.
Commenting on the results,Appleby emphasised the
need to maintain focus on its important investigative work:
“On the investigations of Anglo Irish Bank, I
want to make a few general comments this morning.
The first point is that this is a large and
extensive investigation, certainly the largest by far that this Office has
addressed in the ten years of its existence. The Garda Síochána have also
indicated that this is one of the largest commercial investigations in which
they have ever been involved. The time that this investigation is taking simply
reflects its scope and complexity.
You will know that the Irish legal system is
adversarial. It also rightly contains significant legal safeguards for potential
suspects. In these circumstances, every procedural step taken by the Gardaí and
the ODCE in these investigations will likely be subjected to intense legal
scrutiny in the course of any criminal trials that may take place at a later
date. Against this background, investigators must take the greatest possible
care in acquiring and securing potential criminal evidence. This also takes
It is not well known that potential witnesses in
criminal investigations are not obliged to assist the authorities. While the
Office has received valuable cooperation from more than 200 people who have
willingly provided witness statements to the Garda officers seconded to this
Office, obtaining statements from reluctant witnesses can be a difficult and
time consuming task. In this regard, I welcome the fact that the recently
published Criminal Justice Bill proposes that witnesses, who are not suspects in
a criminal investigation, may be compelled, in certain circumstances, to give
evidence relevant to the investigation.
There has also been a lot of media comment about
the pace of ‘white collar crime’ investigations here relative in particular to
the US. The US legal system is not a good comparator for a number of reasons. It
is more relevant to consider what happens in jurisdictions with similar legal
frameworks to our own. In the UK, the website of the Serious Fraud Office
publicly indicates that cases investigated by it currently take 4 – 6 years on
average to complete.The Anglo investigation is well ahead of this benchmark, and I am
satisfied that the investigation is proceeding diligently and expeditiously.
I make these comments to explain that complex
investigations take time to bring to a conclusion. In order to help expedite
matters, the Garda Authorities and my Office agreed some time ago a special
arrangement with the DPP whereby we could send him ‘not fully completed’
investigation files to facilitate his early consideration of the material
involved. Pursuant to that agreement, we sent him one completed investigation
file, one substantial ‘not fully complete’ investigation file and three reports
late last year and early this year. The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation also
sent a significant volume of material to the DPP in late 2010. While I fully
appreciate that there is some frustration with the length of time it is taking
to complete these investigations, it is clear that substantial and tangible
progress has been made.
Given that we are scheduled to report to the High
Court on the progress of the investigation in a few weeks’ time, I do not
propose to provide any further information this morning. What I will say is that
the investigating officers on our Anglo team are a talented, experienced and
committed group who are intent on completing a professional and thorough
investigation as soon as possible. Our job is to acquire all relevant evidence
to allow the DPP make an appropriate decision on the extent to which charges, if
any, may be justified against any party arising from the events which are under
However, I should stress that it is a matter for
DPP, and the DPP alone, to decide which charges, if any, should be brought. We
will be giving every possible assistance to the DPP in making his decision.
I mentioned the new Criminal Justice Bill
earlier. This Bill is a product of an extensive public consultation process
undertaken by the Department of Justice late last year. I am publishing today
the ODCE submission to the Department which has been considered in framing this
new legislation. I have little doubt that this Bill, once enacted, will assist
in expediting the future investigation of ‘white collar crime’. ”
Going on to deal with the rest of the Office’s
work, the director commented as follows:
“Inevitably the large increase in our work,
allied to the restrictions in available resources, has had an impact on some of
our headline figures. We have had to allocate most of our resources to the Anglo
investigation and also to dealing with the 50% increase in reports from
Appleby said the cost of the Anglo investigation
would be around €1m, but that figure would increase substantially if any of the
matters under investigation went to trial.