Minister must take responsibility for ODCE and Anglo trial ‘shambles’ – Quinlivan
Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan today called on the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell-O’Connor, to take responsibility for the collapse of the Anglo trial this week due to the mishandling off evidence and flawed investigation undertaken by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Teachta Quinlivan said;
“In relation to the Sean Fitzpatrick case, it is clear that the ODCE categorically failed in its mission to encourage adherence to company law and bring to account those who disregard the law. The sheer incompetence shown in this investigation is shocking and totally unacceptable in this day and age. Common sense would inform one that it is not appropriate for anyone else to take statements from witnesses, apart from Gardaí, or to shred documents in the midst of a criminal trial.
“The financial cost of this fiasco will be significant. Leaving aside the price of a nine year investigation, it has been estimated to have cost €3 million for this 127 day failed trial alone. As per usual, the taxpayer is left cleaning up the mess and picking up the tab. If one thing is guaranteed in this state, it is that the taxpayer will be left on the hook.
“The loss to the citizens of Ireland is not just financial. This situation also costs an unmeasurable loss in public confidence in politics and the legal system. The state can be bankrupted and banks can be collapsed, and no one is held to account. However if you don’t pay your TV license, expect the full rigour of the law.
“Public opinion is firmly of the belief that, dependent on who you are and what your worth, this will have a material effect on how the criminal law applies to you.
“The number of staff in the ODCE has declined from 53 in 2010 to 40 in 2016. Apart from the unacceptable 26% reduction in staffing levels, it is bizarre to think that just 40 people were assigned to investigate and prosecute all white collar crime in Ireland in 2016. It highlights how serious this government takes the issue.
“Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Labour have all been in government since this investigation began in 2008. So, it is hypocritical of deputies from these parties to say that more should have been done to avoid this outcome. They had the opportunity in government to tackle white collar crime, but they failed to address it, and this is the result of their inaction.
“It is clear that the ODCE was unprepared and unable for this type of investigation and prosecution. Questioned about the resourcing of the ODCE last year, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said she was satisfied that the office was sufficiently funded. Clearly, it was neither funded nor resourced correctly and the Minister must take responsibility as a result.”