Tuesday 21 November 2017

Banking inquiry likely to result in 15 more arrests

Main investigation to be completed by June

ENFORCER: Paul Appleby
ENFORCER: Paul Appleby

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter

The main investigation into the Irish banking crisis is to be completed by June and up to 15 people could face prosecution as a result, the Sunday Independent has learned.

The Director of Corporate Enforcement, Paul Appleby, is said to be nearing the end of his 14-month inquiry and will be ready to report to the Government before the summer recess.

However, senior government officials have conceded that it is unlikely that any prosecutions will commence until at least next year, given the legal difficulties in bringing a strong enough case.

There has been much criticism about the length of the investigations and even Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has called for a speedy conclusion to the investigation.

According to senior government sources, central to Mr Appleby's investigation is the €7.5bn back-to-back transfer from Irish Life & Permanent to Anglo, which led to the resignations of former Anglo bosses David Drumm and Sean FitzPatrick and former Irish Life & Permanent boss Denis Casey, treasury head David Gantly and finance director Peter Fitzpatrick.

Mr Appleby is seeking to get to the bottom of the controversial series of secret loans to directors and the €451m loan to the Anglo 'golden circle'.

The probe is to also examine the role of Anglo Irish Bank's auditors, Ernst and Young and their failure to spot the "cooking of the books," by Anglo bosses in particular.

More than one-third of all staff in the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) are now working on its lengthy investigation into Anglo Irish Bank, it emerged recently.

With the ODCE coming under mounting political pressure to complete its report, the office has allocated 16 of its 47 staff to the investigation.

These include garda detectives and staff with accounting, administrative, technology and legal expertise. Staff members at the ODCE, in conjunction with the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, are working their way through more than two million documents, seized during the investigation into Anglo.

In addition to Mr Appleby's investigation, gardai are conducting their own enquiries into what happened, as is the Financial Regulator.

Despite the welcome news about the drawn-out investigation into the worst financial crisis in Ireland's history, senior government officials have conceded that it is unlikely that any prosecutions will commence before next year.

"It is unlikely that any prosecutions will start until early next year, given the complexities of the case and the state of Irish law. People often refer to the Bernie Madoff case in the US, who was locked up in under 100 days, but they have very different rules over there. It's going to be a while yet," the source said.

Last February, the Garda Fraud Squad raided Anglo Irish Bank's headquarters, acting for Mr Appleby.

Officers raided three buildings at Anglo Irish's headquarters on St Stephen's Green in Dublin after getting warrants to search for books, documents, computer files and computer hard drives.

Sunday Independent

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