A High Court judge has expressed concern over the failure to thoroughly investigate and bring prosecutions relating to possible criminal wrongdoing in the commercial and corporate sector.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said this did nothing to instil confidence in the way the criminal justice system applies to that sector.
Mr Justice Kelly made his comments while again strongly criticising the pace of the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank by the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
The judge refused to grant a six month adjournment sought by the Director to extend time for the investigation. Instead he gave an adjournment until the end of July.
He said in excess of two years' investigation without any appreciable result was not at all satisfactory.
Mr Justice Kelly said the Anglo investigation was not unique with regard to its lack of speed.
He said that over the last few years he had sent papers for consideration by the relevant investigation and prosecution authorities in a number of Commercial Court cases where judgments had been given for millions of euro against people, where there was evidence, on the face of it, of criminal wrongdoing on their part.
In some cases, he said, admissions of wrongdoing had been made.
The judge said despite the fact that years had passed since the papers were referred to the authorities, no prosecutions had followed and little appeared to have been done.
He said an apparent failure to investigate thoroughly yet efficiently and quickly possible wrongdoing in the commercial/corporate sector did nothing to instil confidence in the criminal justice system as applicable to that sector.
Mr Justice Kelly said that the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank had had profound and serious consequences for the economic well-being of this State and its citizens. He said it had caused much hardship to many small shareholders who invested in it in good faith.
And it had played no small part in seriously damaging Ireland's business reputation throughout the world,' he added.
Mr Justice Kelly granted an extension of time for the investigation until July 28. He said that if the Director of Corporate Enforcement wanted more time at that stage, he expected to be given much more detailed information about the progress of the investigation into the issues involved.
In particular, he said he would want to know what progress has been made about material sent to the DPP in December last year and more accurate estimates of time as to when the investigations will be completed.
The court heard that four files have been sent to the DPP in relation to various issues under investigation. However, it also heard that further documentation and interviews have yet to be concluded in relation to two of them.
Mr Justice Kelly also said that he was told in November last year that investigations into one of the issues would be substantially completed by March this year. But there was now no more than an assertion that every effort would be made to have it completed by the end of 2011.
He said he was at a loss to know how the original time estimate could have been given as 50 witnesses have yet to be interviewed.