Thursday 22 February 2018

Anglo probe extended for a year by High Court

The former headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank
The former headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank

CRIMINAL proceedings arising from the investigation into the 2008 collapse of the former Anglo Irish Bank could run for several years when the right to appeal is take into account, the High Court has been told.

Further charges arising from the investigation carried out by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) may also be brought, Mr Justice Peter Kelly also heard.

The judge said, due to his concern to "ensure impetus is maintained" in the investigation, he would extend it for another year, not for the three years sought by the ODCE, and the court would review the position on January 20, 2015.

Of the five matters subject of investigation, the probe has been completed in three, with criminal proceedings initiated by the DPP, but matters are continuing "at a rather slow pace" in relation to the remaining two issues, he noted.

Those two issues are the provision of a loan to a former director in circumstances which may be contrary to common law and the Companies Act and  the communication of possible false or misleading information in certain Anglo public statements in 2008 which may constitute breaches of the EU Transparency Directive and other regulations.

The DPP had requested certain additional investigative work be carried out in relation to the director's loan issue, that additional investigation was completed in February 2013 and a further file was then sent to the DPP, the court heard.

Files concerning the second matter were sent to the DPP in December 2010 and March 2012 and the need for further work in that regard is being kept under review with the DPP's office, it was stated.

The three areas where investigations are complete related to alleged breaches of Section 60 of the Companies Act, alleged directors transactions including refinancing and alleged back to back deposit arrangements with the Irish Life & Permanent group at the end of Anglo's financial year in September 2008.

The judge was told the first criminal trial arising from the investigation is expected to open on February 4 next, with jury selection to begin on January 31.

That trial involves former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick and former executives William McAteer and Pat Whelan. All three have been charged with offences under Section 60 of the Companies Act.

Three other former senior bank officials - Dennis Casey and Peter Fitzpatrick, respectively the former CEO and finance director of IL&P - and John Bowe, formerly of Anglo - were charged last December in connection with the alleged back-to-back deposits transactions.

All three were charged with conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law. Mr Bowe, a former head of capital markets at Anglo, faced an additional charge that on December 3, 2008, he falsified accounts contrary to the Theft and Fraud Act.

The three were remanded on bail until March 12 when a book of evidence will be produced. Their case is unlikely to be heard this year.

Yesterday, in an affidavit on behalf of the ODCE presented by Paul O'Higgins SC, Supt Eamonn Keogh said the criminal proceedings meant the application to extend the probe, and to extend orders allowing for further retention of millions of documents seized from Anglo, was being made at a "very sensitive" time and it was essential nothing was said in public during the application that could prejudice the trial.

Supt Keogh said the DPP, as prosecutor, was obliged to disclose relevant material seized from Anglo to the accused and the ODCE had produced material for the DPP for that purpose.

Shane Murphy SC, for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo, agreed to the extension of the investigation and the continued retention of the material seized from the bank.

The Director had in January 2013 also sought a three year extension of the probe and of orders allowing retention of documents seized from the bank for the investigation.

Mr Justice Kelly agreed then to extend the orders for one year only to January 17, 2014, after saying he was anxious to ensure a three year extension would not result in any reduction in the "intensity" of the probe. He stressed he was not suggesting that would happen.

Irish Independent

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