Wednesday 25 April 2018

Gardai facing uphill battle to bring charges against Drumm

Tom Brady and  Patricia McDonagh

Gardai face an uphill battle to bring a criminal prosecution against former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm -- unless they are given an opportunity to interview him.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan told the Dail yesterday that Mr Drumm could be extradited from his new home in the US to face prosecution here.

But if members of the garda fraud squad are unable to put the allegations of financial irregularities at the bank to him in a formal interview, the prospects of a criminal prosecution are drastically diminished.

Under extradition legislation Mr Drumm can only be brought back to this country by warrant if he is facing criminal charges here.

He cannot be extradited for questioning.

In similar cases in the past, the Director of Public Prosecutions has indicated that a person should be given an opportunity to respond to any allegations being made against them and those responses are then included in the garda file for consideration before a decision on prosecution can be taken.

Officers from the garda fraud squad have been in negotiations with legal representatives of Mr Drumm with regular contact between the two sides over the past few months.

But so far no agreement has been reached about an interview.

Gardai had been hoping 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 that scenario is no longer likely.

Gardai are hoping that a file arising from their joint investigation with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement will be presented to the DPP by the end of the year and at this stage they may have to present it without any response from Mr Drumm.

This does not definitively rule out a prosecution, if the evidence is there to warrant it, but it seriously reduces the likelihood that it will take place.

Mr Lenihan told the Dail yesterday, in response to queries from Labour's Joe Costello, that extradition could take place if the DPP instituted proceedings following the completion of the investigation.

Labour finance spokesperson Joan Burton insisted that Mr Lenihan should have sought undertakings from former bankers, who were bailed out by the taxpayer, to remain in the jurisdiction and make themselves available to authorities.

But Mr Lenihan pointed out that there was no basis to seek such an undertaking in the absence of legislative power to detain people in Ireland.

He said he had always been clear that Anglo Irish Bank should pursue all debts owing to it, including those of Mr Drumm, and this had been done with recent legal action.

"It is now a matter for the bank and its legal team to assess this latest development [Mr Drumm filing for bankruptcy in the US] and take whatever action is necessary to protect the bank and taxpayers' interests," Mr Lenihan added.

Earlier yesterday, Fine Gael's Charlie Flanagan had asked Taoiseach Brian Cowen if the taxpayer would be represented at the bankruptcy proceedings in the US. He said Mr Drumm was in clear breach of his fiduciary duty and urged the Taoiseach to talk to the Attorney General on the issue.

Mr Cowen replied: "These matters are obviously discussed by the bank and I will take up the matter and find out the position."

Irish Independent

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