Monday 18 December 2017

Honohan – Anglo Tapes could lead to criminal prosecutions

* DPP to rule in Drumm case

Patrick Honohan: tapes alert us to new dimensions of crisis
Patrick Honohan: tapes alert us to new dimensions of crisis

NEW evidence from Anglo Tapes could lead to fresh criminal investigations, the Governor of the Central Bank has said.

The development comes as the Irish Independent has learned the Director of Public Prosecutions is close to determining whether disgraced Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm will face criminal charges here, it is understood.

In his first reaction to the publication of the tapes by the Irish Independent, Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan said the regulator was examining whether Anglo Irish Bank "deliberately misrepresented" the position of the bank when it sought taxpayer support in 2008.

"There is one element in what has been disclosed in these tapes which alerts us at the Central Bank to the dimension which we had not been aware of and which we think needs further scrutiny," he said.

"That is the indications that Anglo Irish Bank was deliberately misrepresenting the position of the bank with a view to accessing financial support from the Central Bank.

"So this is new in the sense that we knew they were looking for support but we did not know they felt their situation was much worse than they were communicating to the Bank."

The probe by the Central Bank has been launched as a direct result of the publication of the tapes by the Irish Independent.

Meanwhile, the DPP decision on Mr Drumm will come after a detailed study of a file sent by gardai 18 months ago.

Gardai have been powerless to take action against Mr Drumm, who now lives in the US. Under the law, the authorities here cannot seek his extradition from another jurisdiction to face questioning about a suspected crime.

Mr Drumm is currently living with his wife and family in America. He owns a house he bought for around €1.4m in the upmarket Boston suburb of Wellesley.

However, the company he set up in the US has been dissolved, the Irish Independent has learned.

Mr Drumm established Delta Corporate Finance in 2009 as part of his bid to get a visa – and during 2010 was claiming a €9,000 monthly salary. But Mr Drumm's firm was dissolved after it failed to file any company records over the past two years.

Mr Drumm has ignored repeated requests from the garda fraud bureau to co-operate with its inquiries into the suspected offences.

He has also been under growing pressure to return here to comply with a banking inquiry, with Finance Minister Michael Noonan warning there would be "sanctions" for those who failed to co-operate.

However, it remains unclear how any such sanctions would work for people called by the inquiry who are living abroad.

And gardai can only be handed an extradition warrant by the courts if they can guarantee that a suspect will be charged with an offence if brought back to this country.

It is understood that the DPP's study of the file is now in its final stages as the nation absorbs the fall-out from the Irish Independent's publication of the Anglo Irish Tapes.

The file on Mr Drumm was one of a raft presented to DPP Claire Loftus and her senior officials by the gardai and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).

It was completed after lengthy inquiries by officers from the Garda National Bureau of Fraud Investigation and was submitted towards the end of 2011.

Although the files have been submitted at varying times by the gardai and the ODCE, it was accepted that the DPP's office would want to consider them in their totality before reaching a final decision on all of them. This has put a huge workload on her office because of the complexity of the investigation.

Files on a number of other key players in the Anglo Irish Bank case are also awaiting determination by the office of the DPP.

At the weekend, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore appealed to Mr Drumm to fly back from the US to be interviewed by gardai.

INTERVIEW

Gardai have themselves made numerous attempts to set up a meeting with Mr Drumm, through contact with his lawyers. They suggested meeting either in this country or in another location, but they have been unable to arrange an interview.

If Mr Drumm does decide at this late stage to return home, gardai will initially request him to make himself available voluntarily for interview.

But if he refuses, according to garda sources, a warrant will then be issued for his arrest and he will be detained for questioning under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

In 2010 gardai hoped that Mr Drumm would make himself available voluntarily for interview here, as he was expected to return to Dublin for civil proceedings in the courts. But he did not come home.

Senior garda officers decided in the autumn of 2011, in consultation with lawyers from the DPP's office, to complete the file without Mr Drumm's input.

They decided to allow the DPP to determine whether or not criminal charges should arise in relation to the former chief executive.

Lack of a response from Mr Drumm does not definitively rule out a prosecution, if the evidence is there to warrant it.

- Tom Brady and Donal O'Donovan

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Promoted Links

Also in Business