Anglo trial may not begin for at least a year

Thursday 17 January 2013 17.32
Mr Justice Peter Kelly has in the past been critical of the pace of the investigation
Mr Justice Peter Kelly has in the past been critical of the pace of the investigation

The High Court has heard it could take a year to secure a trial date for those charged in relation to the investigation into the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank.

The court granted a one-year extension to the Director of Corporate Enforcement to retain documents seized during the four-year investigation.

Charges have been brought in relation to two of the five matters under investigation.

The High Court heard substantial progress has been made, which could lead to further charges.

Updating the court on the progress of the investigation, counsel for the Director of Corporate Enforcement said charges had been brought against a number of former Anglo executives in relation to two of the five issues under investigation.

However, there was now a lengthy and detailed disclosure process under way, which would take a considerable time.

In response to questions from Mr Justice Peter Kelly about a possible trial date, Counsel for the DPP Úna Ní Raifeartaigh told the court the current waiting list in the ordinary circuit court list is approximately 12 months.

She was not aware as yet of any specific steps being taken to assign a judge to "case manage" the trials.

She said significant new evidence had been secured in relation to the inquiry into "back-to-back" deposits.

Mr Justice Kelly, who has in the past been critical of the pace of the investigation, refused to grant a three-year extension as only two of the five issues had been concluded.

However, he granted a one-year extension, which is the longest to date, and adjourned the case to January next year.

The judge said he would be anxious to ensure a three-year extension would not result in a lessening of the intensity of the investigation and decisions on charges.

Senior Counsel for the Director of Corporate Enforcement Paul O'Higgins said there was an "enormous task" of making disclosure to the various defendants in the criminal cases, which had placed an enormous onus on the Director.

It involved the most rigorous examination of the documents that would not even be used in primary evidence, but could be of assistance to the defence.

IBRC had no objection to a three-year extension, Senior Counsel Shane Murphy said.

The five issues being investigated include possible breaches of the Companies Act, which prohibits a bank giving loans to buy its own shares.

Three former executives, Seán FitzPatrick, Willie McAteer and Pat Whelan, have been charged.

Mr FitzPatrick has also been charged in relation to the second issue, the alleged "warehousing" of loans to Anglo directors.

The investigation into back-to-back deposit arrangement between Anglo and Irish Life and Permanent at the end of September 2008 is almost complete and significant progress has been made, the court heard.

The court issue related to a director's loan and additional investigative work is being carried out in Ireland.

The fifth issue on alleged breaches of the EU Transparency Directive Regulations cannot be concluded until all other areas of the investigation are complete, the court was told.