Delays in Anglo probe not down to resources, garda chief insists
Published 20/04/2011 | 05:00
The massive garda investigation into financial irregularities at Anglo Irish Bank is now being finalised and is not being delayed by any lack of resources, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said yesterday.
He dismissed suggestions from some of his frontline supervisors that the strength of the garda fraud bureau was not "nearly half enough" to deal with white collar crime.
And he said he had "absolute confidence" in the investigators appointed to probe the Anglo Irish Bank saga.
Before he addressed the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors in Limerick, Mr Callinan said there were more than 70 personnel in the fraud bureau and he understood that each specialist unit would be lobbying for extra resources at all times.
But he was adamant that the longevity of the Anglo investigation was not due to a shortage of resources and he had been re-assured by his management team that this was not the case.
In the Anglo case, they had taken the somewhat unusual step of bringing the Director of Public Prosecutions on board at an early stage and counsel from his office as well as forensic accountants were heavily involved in the investigation.
White collar crime could often be quite complex and legal issues such as privilege and gaining access to documentation could take time.
Mr Callinan said he was satisfied that the Anglo investigators were quite capable of completing their task. He noted that 90pc of their investigation files had been completed and they were working in close co-operation with the DPP's office to finalise the rest of their work.
It was then a matter for the DPP to determine if criminal charges should be brought. Shortly before Christmas the gardai submitted files to the DPP on two key issues -- the €7.2bn back-to-back deposit arrangement between Anglo and Irish Life & Permanent in September 2008 and the involvement of the 'Maple Ten' group of investors.
Last month Director of Corporate Enforcement Paul Appleby confirmed that he had sent another extensive investigative file to the DPP on Anglo's provision of loans to the various investors so they could buy Anglo shares.
The DPP must consider the reports from the gardai and Mr Appleby's office in tandem before reaching a decision on charges.
Mr Callinan said that for some time the gardai had been training up a number of personnel in each division to deal with Criminal Assets Bureau-related and fraud offences and this eliminated the need for specialist units in the regions.
He also rejected a call for a special social welfare fraud investigation unit as he said those offences were being handled by staff from within that department.
In a reaction to the association's criticism of large payouts to senior bankers, he said could understand the frustration of gardai as well as others but his focus must remain on the investigation of crime.
Asked about recent garda successes in tackling the gangs behind the cannabis 'growhouses', the commissioner disclosed that there had been 60 detections so far as part of Operation Nitrogen and 30 of those involved full production line activities.
Forty people were before the courts and the estimated street value of the cannabis seized was put at €6m.