Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Questions (72, 73)

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

143 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position in regard to each of the inquiries being carried out by, or on behalf of her Department; the projected date for the conclusion of each such investigation; the inquiries in respect of which reports have been referred to the DPP; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3797/04]

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Seán Ryan

Question:

160 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the costs incurred by the State, at the latest date for which figures are available, arising from the various inquiries instigated by, or on behalf of her Department; the element of these costs which have been recovered from any of the other parties involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3798/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 143 and 160 together.

A total of 16 investigations into company law matters have been initiated by me since I first came into office as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. In respect of three of these, the High Court appointed, on an application by me, inspectors under section 8 of the Companies Act 1990. The inspectors appointed to Ansbacher (Cayman) Limited presented their report to the High Court on 10 June 2002. The report was subsequently published. The report has been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Section 8 inquiries into the affairs of National Irish Bank Limited and National Irish Bank Financial Services Limited are continuing. I understand the inspectors made a submission to the court last week to inform the court of the present position of the inquiries.

One investigation under section 14 of the Companies Act 1990 was completed in 1998. The report on this has been passed to the DPP.

A total of 11 investigations were initiated by me under section 19 of the Companies Act 1990. Some six of these have been concluded. Of the six investigations completed, two of the reports were passed to the DPP. A number of summary prosecutions have since been successfully concluded in one case. One report provided an input into the successful application to the High Court for the appointment of inspectors under section 8 while the fourth report was passed to the relevant High Court inspectors. One report was completed in September 2002 and a further report was completed in March 2003. Both reports have been referred to the Director of Corporate Enforcement. Three investigations under section 19 are ongoing and the authorised officer is working towards completing reports of these investigations by mid-2004.

Two investigations were held up in legal appeals. These enquiries are now the responsibility of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. One investigation was undertaken under section 59 of the Insurance Act 1989. The report on this has been referred to the DPP as well as to the inspectors undertaking the section 8 investigation into that company.

The costs incurred since 1997 on company investigations initiated by, or on behalf of, my Department currently amount to approximately €10.3 million. This amount does not include the salary costs of Civil Service staff working on a number of these investigations or the legal costs, which are primarily being borne by the Vote of the Chief State Solicitor. Most of the €10.3 million derives from the costs to date of the High Court inspectors appointed under section 8; €5.3 million in the case of National Irish Bank Limited-National Irish Bank Financial Services Limited and €3.5 million in the case of Ansbacher (Cayman) Limited.

The question of recovering costs from the section 8 investigations does not arise until such time as the inspectors complete their investigations. In the case of the Ansbacher enquiry, the High Court proceedings taken by the State to recover the costs of the inquiry were settled out of court for the sum of €1.25 million in favour of the State. Section 19, as originally enacted, did not provide for the recoupment of costs. This has now changed with the enactment of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001.