The High Court has appointed three inspectors to investigate the Ansbacher deposits. The decision to appoint inspectors opens the way for the identities of the holders of the controversial offshore accounts to be revealed. A successful application was made this afternoon before the High Court on behalf of the Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Mary Harney. The three inspectors have been appointed to determine if the affairs of Ansbacher (Cayman) Limited - formally Guinness Mahon Cayman Trust Limited - were conducted with intent to defraud the Revenue Commissioners. Retired High Court President, Mr Justice Declan Costello, will head an investigation, which includes a barrister and a chartered accountant.

The trio has been charged with examining and defining the nature and extent of the companies Irish business from 1971 and identifying company officers, shadow directors and agents who assisted in carrying out its business. The investigation will examine whether the Companies Act was breached, what provisions were breached and the people responsible for those breaches. It will also examine whether the affairs of the company were conducted with intent to defraud the Revenue Commissioners or any other creditors for a fraudulent or unlawful purpose.

Their appointment follows the McCracken Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Dunnes payments. That Tribunal revealed that from the mid-1970's, Ansbacher (Caymen) Limited had placed substantial deposits with Guinness Mahon Ireland on behalf of Irish residents which by 1989 had grown to about £38 million.

Tanaiste Mary Harney has welcomed the High Court decision to appoint inspectors. She said taht she was certain they would get to the bottom of something that is in the public interest. She said many people had not co-operated and there had been attempts to frustrate the enquiry over the past two years, but now the inspectors had the appropriate power. She said that she was more interested in practices than names and that while she knew there was tax evasion she did not know the scale of it.