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Anglo probe set to continue for 'several months'

THE Director of Corporate Enforcement has said that they still have "several months work" ahead with the Anglo probe and new cases caused by insolvency trebling.

Paul Appleby refused to make any comment about the progress of the Anglo Irish investigation except to say that he has 16 staff employed fulltime in the probe and that he is liaising with the Garda Fraud Office.

Mr Appleby also disclosed that the investigation, which has cost €1m to date, is hampering efforts to take proceedings against other companies who may have broken company law.

This was because of the resources Anglo was taking up.

The three issues being investigated in relation to Anglo include the movement of €87m of directors' loans by former chairman Sean Fitzpatrick between Anglo and Irish Nationwide; the sale of a stake in Anglo, owned by Sean Quinn and his family, to a so-called "golden circle'' of 10 investors; and the 'back-to-back' deposit deal between Anglo and Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P), which took place in 2008 and may have flattered the Anglo books.

Mr Appleby said there was now a "note of realism'' about how long it took to investigate alleged white-collar crime, and he said this view had been reflected recently by the DPP.

"On the Anglo investigation, our Annual Report records outline the work which has been ongoing since early last year in acquiring and evaluating large amounts of hard copy and electronic documents and other material," he said.

"A lot of progress has been made, and the investigations are going well.

"We are continuing to work closely with the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation in pursuing our respective enquiries.

"My staff and I are well aware of the public's legitimate desire that these investigations should be concluded soon, and we are endeavouring to complete them as quickly as is appropriate.

"At the same time, we are acutely conscious that these investigations must be thorough and professional. The acquisition of evidence for potential criminal proceedings is a painstaking process."

Mr Appleby also said his office had to deal with a dramatic increase in company failures.

The ODCE received 1,519 new reports and complaints last year, an increase of 47pc, mainly due to a rise in the number of reports from liquidators.