Severe criticism of its investigation into Anglo Irish Bank and Seán Fitzpatrick forced the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) to review its investigative practices and procedures. Lessons have been learned.
Key hires included a digital forensic specialist, an investigative accountant and two enforcement portfolio managers. The ODCE also filled a Detective Inspector position which had been vacant for some time, and a garda position, bringing the garda complement back to 7 members. (Gardaí working with the ODCE are seconded from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau).
Advancements are also reported to have been made to the ODCE's forensic capabilities.
The establishment of a dedicated digital forensics laboratory, with onsite file storage solutions, including evidence storage solutions to ensure chain of evidence procedures, has reduced the ODCE's reliance on third-party contractors and An Garda Síochána. The annual report states that the portable digital forensics capability assists with the onsite interrogation of devices and corporate networks when executing search warrants, and allows investigators to identify and remove relevant information without any disruption to corporate networks.
CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS & PROSECUTIONS
The report indicates that the ODCE will continue to focus on serious wrongdoing, and will devote less resources to pursuing criminality on the less serious end of the spectrum. Successful convictions in 2017 included:
- 2 convictions on indictment for fraudulent trading - 8 months' imprisonment/ 30 months' imprisonment;
- 1 conviction on indictment for failure to maintain a register of lending to directors - €3,000 fine.
The ODCE also submitted four investigation files to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for consideration, with recommendations including charges under the Companies Acts, the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001, the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, and under common law.
It executed four search warrants and exercised its powers of arrest on three occasions.
The report states that the ODCE has an ongoing caseload of large scale investigations which may be referred to the DPP for consideration as to whether charges should be brought on indictment.
As detailed in its White Collar Crime package, in order to enhance the operational effectiveness of the ODCE, the Government intends to re-establish it as an independent agency. The report suggest that the Government is working on proposals to progress this.
This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.