As I am sure the Deputy will be aware I, as Minister, have no role in the conduct of criminal investigations or in decisions on prosecutions. These are matters for the Garda and the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, respectively, and it would be most inappropriate for me to attempt to become involved in assessing the content of any particular files.
I can inform the Deputy that the Garda Commissioner has advised me that the Garda investigations in relation to Anglo Irish Bank are substantially complete. A number of Garda investigation files have been submitted to the DPP and her independent directions are still awaited. A full investigation team remains employed at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation to conduct necessary follow-up inquiries. The Garda Commissioner has assured me this work is receiving absolute priority. The latest information I have from the Garda authorities indicates that 23 members of An Garda Síochána were engaged in the investigations into Anglo Irish Bank, including nine members of An Garda Síochána currently seconded to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, ODCE, and 14 personnel at the Garda bureau of fraud investigation.
I have previously stated in this House that I shared the impatience of many at the pace of the investigations into possible criminal behaviour at Anglo Irish Bank. I also appreciate that the investigators and prosecutors face particular challenges as a result of the complexities of the matters being investigated. This is the most complex investigation of its kind ever undertaken in the State. I am advised there are ten strands to it. It requires the analysis of a huge range of records - more than 800,000 separate documents and 250,000 recordings of telephone conversations. Of the telephone recordings, 15,000 were identified as being relevant to the investigations. A significant number of witness statements have been taken, and inevitably in a case like this, the statements can be extremely lengthy. Search warrants and court orders have been executed and persons arrested. It has also been necessary to carry out inquiries outside the State.
In the context of the challenges arising in the investigation, shortly after assuming office I published the Criminal Justice Bill 2011 which was enacted in July last. This Act provided new procedures to An Garda Síochána to facilitate its obtaining crucial information and documentation and accessing electronically held information of importance.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
It is now for the DPP to determine on the basis of the files and all additional information furnished to her whether a prosecution or prosecutions should be initiated. This is a matter for the independent judgment of the DPP. Like everyone else, I am anxious that clarity be brought to these crucial matters as soon as possible. What is important now is that nothing be said which would in any way risk the possibility of prejudicing any criminal proceedings which might arise.