Thursday 22 August 2019

Fees for inspectors probing alleged corporate governance violations at INM reach €550,000, ODCE says

Independent House, Talbot Street, Dublin
Independent House, Talbot Street, Dublin

Shawn Pogatchhnik

The two inspectors investigating alleged corporate governance violations at Independent News and Media have generated fees of €550,000 since September, the ODCE said today in its annual report.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement said it previously had spent 15 months investigating the INM allegations and concluded, it said, “the further progression of the investigation necessitated the deployment of the more powerful investigative tools reserved by law to court-appointed inspectors, specifically … the powers of compellability and examination of relevant persons under oath.”

The High Court confirmed the appointment of inspectors Sean Gillane SC and Richard Fleck CBE in September.

The ODCE said the inspectors had presented initial findings to the High Court on April 11 “and, at the time of writing, are continuing their investigations".

Over the course of 2018, the ODCE said it restricted or disqualified 181 company directors as part of its efforts to root out crime and unethical activity in the business community.

Its investigations of insolvent companies led to disqualification orders against 31 executives, 21 of whom consented to this punishment, and restriction orders against 150 others.

The ODCE said its investigations involved five arrests and one successful conviction involving an 18-month prison sentence.

The ODCE said its staff grew from 39 to 46 over the year, including the hiring of two more forensic accountants. This was a response, in part, to the criticism levied against the corporate watchdog over the failure of its criminal case against former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive Sean Fitzpatrick.

Those hires took the ODCE’s forensic accountant staff to seven.

It said the Government had authorised the ODCE to buy software and hardware for forensic online investigative work - a task it said was conducted largely by unidentified “third parties” - but these purchases were not yet complete.

Breaking down how its investigators had identified potential cases of corporate wrongdoing in 2018, the ODCE said it had relied on 867 liquidators’ reports, including one “regarding possible criminality”; 73 reports from auditors identifying indictable offences; 41 examiners’ reports; 247 complaints from the public; 5 protected disclosures, and 40 applications seeking changes to companies’ year-end accounts.

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