Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
78. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position in regard to each of the inquiries being carried out by or on behalf of him; if he will give a projected date for the conclusion of each such investigation; the inquiries in respect of which reports have been referred to the DPP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28396/04]
126. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the costs incurred by the State at the latest date for which figures are available, arising from the various inquiries instigated by or on behalf of him; the element of these costs that have been recovered from any of the other parties involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28397/04]
Some 16 investigations into company law matters were initiated by my predecessor since this Government first came into office. In three cases, the High Court appointed, on an application by the Minister, inspectors under section 8 of the Companies Act 1990. The inspectors appointed to Ansbacher (Cayman) Limited presented their report to the High Court on 10 June 2002. The report was subsequently published. The report has been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The inspectors appointed to National Irish Bank Limited and National Irish Bank Financial Services Limited presented their report to the High Court on 12 July 2004. The report was subsequently published. The court ordered that a copy of the report be sent to several relevant authorities, including the Director of Public Prosecutions. One investigation under section 14 of the Companies Act 1990 was completed in 1998. The report on this has been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions, DDP.
Eleven investigations were initiated by the Minister under section 19 of the Companies Act 1990. Six of these have been concluded. Of the six investigations completed, two of the reports were passed to the DPP. A number of summary prosecutions have since been successfully concluded in one case. One report provided an input into the successful application to the High Court for the appointment of inspectors under section 8 while the fourth report was passed to the relevant High Court inspectors. One report was completed in September 2002 and a further report was completed in March 2003. Both reports have been referred to the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
Three investigations under section 19 remain to be concluded. The authorised officer has been directed by my predecessor to cease investigative work and to commence writing up his reports with a view to facilitating appropriate follow up action as soon as possible by the relevant authorities. My Department is currently in discussion with the authorised officer regarding an updated timetable for the completion of these investigations.
Two investigations were held up in legal appeals. These inquiries are now the responsibility of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. One investigation was undertaken under section 59 of the Insurance Act 1989. The report on this was referred to the DPP as well as to the inspectors who undertook the section 8 investigation into that company.
The costs incurred since 1997 on company investigations initiated by or on behalf of my Department currently amount to approximately €10.7 million. This amount does not include the salary costs of Civil Service staff working on a number of these investigations or the legal costs which are primarily being borne by the Vote of the Chief State Solicitor. Most of this €10.7 million derives from the costs of the High Court inspectors appointed under section 8 —€5.7 million in the case of National Irish Bank Limited-National Irish Bank Financial Services Limited and €3.5 million in the case of Ansbacher (Cayman) Limited.
The question of recovering costs from the section 8 investigations does not arise until such time as the inspectors complete their investigations. In the case of the Ansbacher inquiry, the High Court proceedings taken by the State to recover the costs of the inquiry were settled out of court for the sum of €1.25 million in favour of the State. In the case of National Irish Bank Limited-National Irish Bank Financial Services Limited, the court ordered that National Irish Bank pay the full costs of the investigation. Section 19, as originally enacted, did not provide for the recoupment of costs. This has now changed with the enactment of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001.
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