The advice of the Attorney General was sought on the publication of the report of the Director of Corporate Enforcement prepared under section 955(1)(a) of the Companies Act 2014. Because of section 956 of the Companies Act 2014 the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation is prohibited from publishing reports prepared pursuant to section 955 of the Act. This advice is very clear. It means that I will be breaking the law if I publish the report that the Deputy is referring to.
The Companies Act 2014 contains strict confidentiality obligations on information in the possession of the director. This is because there is a public interest in ensuring that ongoing and future investigations are not compromised by the disclosure of details of an individual investigation and the investigative process itself.
However, while it is not possible to publish the report itself, an account of the investigative shortcomings identified by Judge Aylmer was published on 4 December 2018 on the website of my Department. The account sets out the factors which led to the investigative shortcomings, including the need for a broader skills base, a greater range and depth of knowledge and experience of criminal prosecutions within the office and a greater appreciation of the necessity to employ appropriate procedures and manage risk. Now that we know the factors that led to the shortcomings, our focus has shifted to ensuring we use the lessons of this investigation, note the steps already taken to address them and identify further measures to enhance the capacity of the ODCE to tackle corporate wrongdoing.
Since the time of the investigation, the director has implemented multiple reforms within the ODCE, including staffing and procedural reforms that address many of the issues that led to the investigative shortcomings outlined by Judge Aylmer. Further measures to be taken include the establishment, as announced by Government in November 2017, of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as an agency. This will provide the office with greater autonomy in respect of staffing resources and ensure it is better equipped to investigate increasingly complex breaches of company law.