Sunday 23 July 2017

Cleared industrialist Flavin returning to commercial life

A jubilant Jim Flavin after
victory in 2005 in the High
Court in the civil case for
damages brought by Fyffes
A jubilant Jim Flavin after victory in 2005 in the High Court in the civil case for damages brought by Fyffes

Thomas Molloy, Dearbhail McDonald and Tim Healy

JIM Flavin, the industrialist who was all but cleared of wrongdoing in a report published yesterday, plans to return to commercial life.

The tycoon, who resigned from DCC after a High Court inspector was appointed to investigate the country's first successful insider dealing prosecution, enjoys commercial life and plans to return to it, his spokeswoman said last night.

Mr Flavin (67) resigned almost two years ago from the company he founded, more than three decades ago, and which is now the nation's sixth-largest listed public company -- with 7,500 employees. His resignation came after the High Court appointed an inspector to look at a Supreme Court judgment that found him guilty of possessing price-sensitive information when selling shares in fruit distributor Fyffes almost 10 years ago. Yesterday's report found that Mr Flavin's actions "measured up to law" and concluded he was guilty of no more than an error of judgment.



Tough

"It's been a very, very tough time for Jim," DCC chairman Michael Buckley said yesterday. The report "allows Jim Flavin . . . to move on".

"It definitively closes a 10-year saga," he added. "It took up a significant amount of management time and board time."

The report appears to be the final act in a lengthy court saga that has cast a pall over corporate governance in Ireland at a time when the country is, in the words of High Court inspector Bill Shipsey "taking a beating internationally from a perception of low standards in high corporate places".

In his report, Mr Shipsey, an experienced lawyer and senior counsel, said that the court, the public and the market could take comfort from the fact that DCC had a well-developed culture of compliance, maintained high corporate standards and "was a good corporate citizen, notwithstanding the costly error of appreciation" by Mr Flavin.

Mr Shipsey, who interviewed many figures who did not feature in the mammoth High Court action that concluded in 2005, said the transactions "measured up to the standards required by law", notwithstanding Mr Flavin's error.

The man who commissioned the 970-page report in the wake of a 2007 Supreme Court finding of insider dealing, Director of Corporate Enforcement Paul Appleby, told the Dail yesterday that he did not know who would foot the €1.4m bill for the report and added that no further legal action would be taken. DCC has already been forced to pay more than €37m in damages to Fyffes and institutional investors.

"We're at the end of the road, so to speak. No other action is warranted," Mr Appleby said. "We must both accept and respect the conclusions by the experienced inspector."

DCC and its subsidiaries strenuously opposed the appointment of a High Court inspector, saying it was unnecessary and disproportionate but Mr Shipsey said that he had received their full co-operation.

Yesterday, High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly directed immediate and full publication of the report in the public interest -- noting that there was no opposition to that by any party.

Lawyer Michael Cush SC, for DCC and subsidiaries, said his clients had read the report and urged immediate publication. DCC welcomed the Director's statement that no proceedings would be taken arising from the report's contents, he added.

The report was presented to the court on December 21.

Irish Independent

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