I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 48 together.
I take it that the Deputies are referring to Oldfields and Co. (Ireland) Ltd. and Fitzwilliam Rating Consultants (Ireland) Ltd. The activities of these companies should properly be considered in the context of contracts entered into by business for the supply of a service. They are therefore governed by the law of contract.
Business organisations constantly argue for less involvement by Government in the affairs of business. Accordingly, I do not believe that they would welcome my involvement in the detailed discussion and negotiation leading to the finalisation of the multitude of agreements entered into by business on a daily basis. There is also the practicality of State involvement, including the allocation of resources, in this area.
I very much regret the losses suffered by individual companies and I consider this an appropriate time to place on record the need for companies to exercise due caution when approached in such instances. This is clearly a case forcaveat emptor on the part of the business community.
If business people believe they have been the subject of fraud, they should pursue the matter with the Garda Síochána. The Law Reform Commission and the Government advisory committee on fraud have highlighted the need for improvement in the relevant legislation and I understand that the Minister for Justice will be bringing a Bill to Government later this year in line with their recommendations. In the meantime additional staff resources, including a professional accountant, have been assigned to the recently established Garda national bureau of fraud investigation. Perhaps it would be instructive to put on the record of the House the following summary of the report of the advisory committee on fraud:
Fraud is by its nature, a peculiarly secretive crime. This is sometimes compounded by an unwillingness on the part of victims of fraud to report the matter to the Garda Síochána. Institutions which are defrauded may, with a view to their interest which we feel is misguided and purely shortterm, feel it is better to suffer a loss in silence than to invite public attention to a failure of security, with a perceived risk not merely of embarrassment but also of loss of investor confidence and added encouragement to other fraudsters.
From what I have already said, it is clear that I do not regard this as a company law matter. Consequently, I do not intend to make any amendments to company law to regulate activities of such companies.