The Director of Public Prosecutions James Hamilton has spoken out about 'current misunderstandings' in relation to the investigation of white collar crime.

Mr Hamilton described the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank as 'unusual'.

He said that while a number of files have been received by DPP, the investigations are not complete and the evidence of important witnesses has still to be taken.

Mr Hamilton pointed out that the choice of what charges to prosecute is a function for the prosecutor alone and is not a judicial function.

Earlier this month, High Court judge, Justice Peter Kelly, raised questions over the pace of the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank, which began in February 2009, but he said was 'nowhere near completion'.

The DPP also said today he wanted to make it clear that a lack of resources is not the reason why a decision to prosecute has not yet been taken in this case.

He was speaking this morning at the 12th Annual National Prosecutors' Conference, which is taking place at Dublin Castle.

However, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O'Brien said those investigating Anglo Irish Bank 'really need to get the finger out'.

Mr O'Brien said: 'This would be an absolute comical situation if it wasn't for the detrimental impact of Anglo Irish Bank on the people of Ireland.

'I am sick and shocked to hear today's comments from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

'If resources are not the issue, why have important witnesses not been questioned? And why are we not further down the road towards necessary prosecutions?'

'Crisis in public confidence'

Senior counsel Shane Murphy told the conference that lawyers and prosecutors should revise their tactics when dealing with white collar criminal cases.

Mr Murphy said there is a 'crisis in public confidence' and a public perception that gardaí, the DPP and the legal profession have a reluctance in dealing with complex fraud cases.

While he said going down the speedy US prosecution route might not be the best option, there are powers that are under utilised in white collar crime cases, such as the confiscation of assets.

Mr Murphy suggested that if prosecutors worked with investigators from an early stage, they could offer advice on where an investigation could go.

Unlike prosecutors, he said, a defendant does not wait until the investigation file is completed to start working on a defence, which means they are steps are ahead of the prosecution.