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Judge's deadline for Anglo probe set to be missed

A DEADLINE imposed by a judge last May for the completion of the Anglo Irish Bank investigation is not expected to be implemented.

Lawyers for the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) and the garda bureau of fraud investigation are likely to put forward an argument for a further extension when the case comes up again in court at the end of the month.

The ODCE and the gardai have indicated that they will not be in a position to complete their files for the Director of Public Prosecutions, James Hamilton, until at least the end of the year.

Although 90pc of the files have been completed, witnesses are still being interviewed in connection with the rest of their inquiries.

Some 200 people have already co-operated with the investigation but more than 40 other witnesses have yet to be seen.

As part of that process, the former head of Irish Nationwide building society, Michael Fingleton, was interviewed by ODCE officials for more than an hour on Monday.

Mr Fingleton agreed to meet the investigators and turned up with his legal representative to answer questions about the "warehousing" of loans made to former Anglo directors, including its former chairman, Sean FitzPatrick.

However, some of the other witnesses are refusing to co-operate and provide statements.

The court ultimatum was delivered in May by Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who expressed concern about the progress of the Anglo investigation and the failure to mount prosecutions in other commercial cases, despite "prima facie evidence" and admissions of criminal wrongdoing.

He warned that more detailed information into the delays affecting the investigation would be required if future extensions were to be sought from the court.

The DPP later pointed out that he would not be ready to proceed until he had received all relevant files.

He said his office had already received a number of voluminous and carefully prepared files, and said that in selecting offences care must be taken not to overwhelm a jury by a trial which was longer and more complicated than necessary.

He cited this as a further reason not to take decisions to prosecute before all of the important and relevant evidence was known.

Head of the ODCE, Paul Appleby, strongly rejected suggestions that his investigation, which began in February 2009, was dragging on.

He said similar investigations in the UK typically took four to six years and the Anglo investigation was "well ahead of that benchmark".

Irish Independent