THE Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is expected to decide within weeks on the first charges in the three-year investigation into alleged financial irregularities at Anglo Irish Bank.
He is reviewing a previous decision to put a hold on determining whether there should be criminal charges on any of the files into alleged financial irregularities at Anglo until the entire investigation is finished.
Several files have already been completed by the Garda National Fraud Bureau and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).
The High Court heard yesterday that the ODCE is investigating five issues and has sent files on those probes to the DPP. The probe into two issues has been completed, the rest are "substantially complete" and the ODCE secured a court order allowing another six months to finish the investigation.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly noted this was the eighth application in the investigation, which, while hugely complex and dealing with a wide variety of criminal offences never considered before here, still seemed to be taking "a very, very long time".
He was "taken aback" to hear just 11 gardai were seconded to the ODCE probe to work with eight officials into this largest and most serious investigation in the State's history, the judge remarked.
That number of gardai seemed extraordinary in the context of this investigation but, he noted, the ODCE believed that number was enough to ensure the probe proceeded at "reasonable" speed.
However, it was made clear last night that a further 15 gardai within the fraud bureau were also working full-time on completing their inquiries into the criminal aspects of the allegations. The gardai are conducting a parallel investigation into Anglo and late last year sent a file to the DPP on back-to-back deposits that Anglo undertook with Irish Life & Permanent in September 2008.
The ODCE probe is essentially complete into two issues -- the provision of a loan to an Anglo executive director in late 2008 and the bank's failure to maintain a register of transactions with its directors and persons connected with those directors.
Files have been sent to the DPP on those matters (which do not relate to current officials of Anglo, renamed the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation).
The probe into the remaining three issues is "substantially complete", the court heard.
Justice Kelly said he was "glad" to be told, by counsel for the DPP, that it is reviewing a previous decision not to make any decision on charging any persons until the probe into all five issues was complete.
The judge concluded it was in the interests of justice to grant the ODCE's application to retain copies of millions of documents seized from Anglo in February 2009 and extend the investigation to July 24 next.
The judge was earlier told the delay in fully completing all five strands of the ODCE investigation arose from several factors, including the reluctance of key witnesses to provide statements.
In an affidavit, Garda Supt Eamon Keogh, seconded to the ODCE for the investigation, said there was "substantial and concrete progress" made in relation to all strands of the ODCE probe since the matter was last before the court in July 2011.
Two strands were complete with all material evidence gone to the DPP. The investigation relating to a third issue -- loans by Anglo in mid-2008 to certain parties to buy shares -- required some "minor" work to complete.
A file was sent to the DPP on January 20 last on a fourth issue relating to transactions by Anglo directors and the suspected provision by Anglo officers of false or misleading information to the bank's auditors.