ODCE defends investigative record in face of FitzPatrick trial criticism
The State’s corporate watchdog has said the factors leading to the collapse of the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick “extend well beyond” failings in its own organisation.
Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) director Ian Drennan made the comments as he faced an Oireachtas committee considering legislation to transform it into a new stand alone agency called the Corporate Enforcement Authority.
Mr FitzPatrick’s was acquitted in 2017 on the direction of trial judge John Aylmer of misleading Anglo’s auditors about loans. The trial collapsed following revelations some evidence was shredded by an ODCE investigator.
The judge also criticised the manner in which statements were taken from key witnesses and found the probe fell short of an unbiased, impartial and balanced investigation.
Mr Drennan told the Oireachtas Business Committee that the ODCE fully accepted the “scathing” criticism of the judge.
But he said if the committee wanted to understand what went wrong, it would need to see more than just the judge’s ruling.
It emerged during the hearing that the committee is to accept a lengthy submission from Mr Drennan. This is said to include key documents from the trial.
There had been doubts as to whether the committee would accept the submission, which is thought to substantially overlap with a report given to Business Minister Heather Humphreys. That report has not been published on legal advice.
However, Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers said following “a robust discussion” the majority of committee members wanted to see the document in the public domain.
She said this may be a challenge and it was likely the submission would be referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor first.
During the hearing, Mr Drennan defended the ODCE’s record in relation to investigating Anglo.
In response previous comments by Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher that the ODCE was “an appalling failed entity”, Mr Drennan said while it “may not fit neatly with the narrative”, four of the five Anglo-related investigations conducted by the ODCE resulted in convictions.
He also said “an enormous level of high quality investigative work” was done during that period.