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Monday 5 December 2016

Anglo execs still refusing to co-operate with probe

But corporate watchdog will get new powers under Criminal Justice Act to force 'reluctant witnesses' to give evidence

Emmet Oliver, Deputy Business Editor

Published 28/07/2011 | 05:00

The investigation team wants to interview the group to shed light on a range of events in 2008 when the bank was under severe market pressure. Photo: Getty Images
The investigation team wants to interview the group to shed light on a range of events in 2008 when the bank was under severe market pressure. Photo: Getty Images

A group of former Anglo Irish Bank executives and other witnesses are still refusing to co-operate with the two-and-half year investigation into the bank, despite a fresh appeal by officers working for corporate watchdog head Paul Appleby.

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The joint garda/Paul Appleby-led investigation team made a fresh appeal in May and June -- but people restated their refusal to co-operate through their lawyers, an affidavit reveals.

The investigation team wants to interview the group to shed light on a range of events in 2008 when the bank was under severe market pressure, including the warehousing of loans with other lenders and a deposit transaction between Anglo and Irish Life & Permanent.

A senior garda attached to Mr Appleby's office, Eamonn Keogh, has revealed that the fresh appeal prompted a change of heart by some of the "reluctant witnesses".

"A small number have since co-operated and made statements or have committed to making statements in the near future," said his affidavit. "A definitive response is outstanding from the remainder."

Interviews

The investigation team had been trying to get interviews with some individuals for more than a year, he added. Mr Appleby and his colleagues say they have no powers to force people to give evidence.

However, the High Court heard yesterday that new powers under the Criminal Justice Act could yet change this position. In certain circumstances, witnesses will have to co-operate under the terms of this bill which is making its way through the Oireachtas.

The affidavit was opened in court during an application by Mr Appleby for more time to continue his probe. This request was granted by Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who told the court special powers to seize material and activate warrants could remain in place until early next year.

Mr Justice Kelly said the collapse of Anglo had "devastating consequences" and it was not unreasonable for people to expect a thorough investigation into whether the criminal law had been breached.

The court also heard evidence from a legal representative of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who said it was not right to say "nothing" was happening in the investigation.

The DPP was being kept fully appraised and had received a number of "modular" reports.

Barrister for the DPP, Una Ni Raifeartaigh, said it had been decided that all the various strands of the investigation should be finished rather than deciding on charges on some segments. She said there was an overlap in witnesses between the different strands and also other linkages.

The investigation team is still hoping to finish up by the end of the year, the affidavit makes clear. However, this is subject to various provisos, the team made clear in evidence to Justice Kelly.

Some of the warehousing of loans -- known as refinancing by the investigation team -- was a lot more extensive and complex than previously thought, said the affidavit.

This was a wholly unexpected development, it said, but the team was now getting a better understanding of the transactions.

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