Tuesday 20 August 2019

ODCE wants market abuse concerns examined

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Dearbhail McDonald and Shane Phelan

The corporate watchdog wants the High Court to appoint inspectors to investigate whether “inside information” was unlawfully disclosed to third parties outside Independent News & Media (INM).

The head of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) wants to determine whether EU market abuse regulations were breached by the disclosure of information in 2016 and 2017.

ODCE director Ian Drennan is basing his concerns on documents, emails and texts he has obtained as part of a year-long investigation into corporate governance issues at the country’s largest media group. Mr Drennan also wants to examine whether between June and November 2016, or at any other time, information confidential to the company, including but not limited to legal advice, was disclosed.

Although the affidavit details multiple communications which Mr Drennan has raised question marks over, the ODCE director does not make definitive findings and it is unclear, if inside information was given, whether anyone benefited from it.

In relation to both lines of inquiry, ODCE director Ian Drennan wants inspectors to report on the facts and circumstances of any such disclosures and the response of INM’s board to being made aware of them.

In relation to concerns about the communication of information confidential to INM, the ODCE director cites a number of emails he has obtained.

Mr Drennan claims some of the information disclosed included confidential and privileged legal advice received by INM and its board.

INM declined to comment.

The ODCE will move an application for the appointment of inspectors to INM in the High Court on April 16.

The watchdog wants the court to appoint Sean Gillane, a senior counsel and leading criminal law expert, and Robert Fleck, a British solicitor previously appointed by the Bank of England to conduct several investigations and statutory inspections under UK company law, to inspect the affairs of INM.

Irish Independent

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