Tuesday 20 February 2018

Justice is not blind to the colour of a man's collar

The State has historically been in awe of the 'wealth creators' and reluctant to confront financial fraud, writes Gene Kerrigan

JUDGES tend to understate things, so Mr Justice Peter Kelly said merely that these matters were "not at all satisfactory". He was talking about the length of time the criminal justice system has been taking to investigate Anglo Irish Bank. A less restrained observer might conclude that the criminal justice system works to a schedule of its own, in some parallel universe where the clocks run backwards and the concept of equality before the law is a fairytale.

This was last May. The investigators were looking for a six-month extension. The judge had already been told that one aspect of the Anglo case would be sorted by the end of last year. "Will it ever end?" he asked. At time of writing, no charges -- if any -- are expected in that case until next year. At the earliest.

If this was a one-off, we could accept that some cases are so complex that there may be delays. But snail-like progress appears common in matters of suspected white collar crime. Judge Kelly pointed out that he sent papers to the DPP in commercial cases in which there was prima facie evidence of wrongdoing. But, "little appears to have been done". He expressed his unease via another understatement. "This is not a desirable state of affairs."

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