Wednesday 24 January 2018

Judge scolds DPP's office for 'longer than desirable' delay in taking action

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Tough-talking judge Peter Kelly has criticised the apparently slow-going investigations arising from the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank, and opted to keep investigators on a tight leash yesterday.

At the Commercial Court in Dublin, Justice Kelly appeared to give the Director of Public Prosecutions a sharp rap across the knuckles, despite the latest arrests linked to the case.

Justice Kelly is involved in the case because investigators need a court order to hold on to masses of documents and electronic files seized from Anglo Irish Bank as part of their trawl of evidence of possible wrongdoing by officials at the bank in the run-up to its nationalisation.

Yesterday investigators asked for an extension of three years on the time they currently have to hold the documents.

Judge Kelly granted an extension of six months.

He made the shorter order noting that progress in the case -- including this week's three high-profile arrests -- always seems to happen on the day before the investigations team has to return to court.

"It seems activity takes place just before review," the judge said as he ordered a new review for January 2013.

The files subject to the court order are held by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) which has been investigating the Anglo collapse, in parallel with a separate probe by the garda fraud office.

Lawyers for the ODCE said their investigations were now complete, but that documents must be held until the DPP has completed all and any prosecutions arising from the Anglo debacle. The six -month order means investigators will have to return to the court in January and seek a tenth review of the court order.

It seems designed to keep up pressure on the DPP's office to maintain the current momentum on the case, or risk another dressing down at the Four Courts in the new year.

The January hearing will come after the criminal trials of former Anglo bosses Sean FitzPatrick, Willie McAteer and Pat Whelan are due to get under way in October.

In court, Judge Kelly repeated his view that the investigation was taking "longer than desirable", and noted that charges that had been brought against three individuals related to just one of five areas under investigation.

Lawyer for the DPP Una Ni Raifeartaigh justified the time taken on the case to date.

It had involved a long and complex examination, she said, and prosecutors must strike a balance between getting matters to court quickly and "getting it right".

Irish Independent

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