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Rogue bankers 'will have to co-operate' under new law

Rogue bankers refusing to co-operate with the garda Anglo Irish Bank investigation will be left with "nowhere to hide" under new laws to tackle white-collar crime, due this week, Justice Minister Alan Shatter has said.

There has been widespread public outrage that in two-and-a-half years since the bank guarantee, no prosecutions or charges have been brought. Mr Shatter said the new legislation would compel people to co-operate with the investigation and would rapidly speed up the pace of the investigation, once it was enacted on Wednesday night.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Shatter said he was anxious for the investigations to be concluded and for those found responsible for crimes to be brought to justice.

"These new powers will greatly assist the gardai in their investigations and will make it compulsory for those requested to co-operate."

The minister said he has had a number of conversations with Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and that he was being kept up to date with the investigations on an ongoing basis. At present, there is one completed garda file with the Director of Public Prosecutions, and his determination on whether to proceed is expected shortly. That garda file was handed over last December.

In May High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly expressed deep concern at the pace of the two-year inquiry into the affairs of Anglo Irish Bank. Refusing to grant a further six-month extension to the investigation by the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the gardai, the judge said the progress of the inquiry was "not at all satisfactory".

Mr Shatter said that legislation like this should have been introduced two years ago, and that he and his officials had put in a considerable amount of work to prepare the complex legislation.

Since the bank guarantee, only two arrests have been made in relation to the investigation into affairs at Anglo Irish Bank. In March 2010, former chairman and now bankrupt Sean FitzPatrick was arrested by gardai at his home.

Days later, Anglo Irish Bank's former finance director, Willie McAteer, became the second former executive to be arrested in the fraud probe into Anglo, which was nationalised in January 2009.

Fraud detectives arrested Willie McAteer on suspicion of helping the Dublin lender artificially inflate its financial position.

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