Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Ceisteanna (31)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

31. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the progress in strengthening the operation of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40873/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Organisational reforms in the ODCE were commenced in 2012 to enhance the capability of the Office to investigate complex breaches of company law and to ensure a more efficient and effective use of its resources.  These include:

- Reorganising the structure of the Office;

- Recruiting additional expertise, including 8 Forensic Accountants, a Digital Forensic Specialist, 2 Enforcement Portfolio Managers and 2 Enforcement Lawyers;

- As senior-level vacancies have arisen, reconfiguration of the skill sets, competencies, roles and      responsibilities associated with those posts to better reflect the organisation's current needs; 

- Amending the investigative procedures used by the Office so that members of An Garda Síochána take the lead in all criminal investigations; and

- Fostering a greater culture of risk management within  the Office.

To enhance the capability of the staff in the ODCE to investigate complex breaches of company law, specialised training was provided in December 2012 in the Garda Training College Templemore for ODCE staff to assist with statement taking, interviewing of witnesses, preparation of files for the DPP, exhibits handling and disclosure.  Garda Level 1 Interview training was also made available in 2015.

The Director of Corporate Enforcement has undertaken over the last two years a significant restructuring of the Office to better reflect the organisation’s needs in the context of both its strategic shift towards deploying resources towards more serious indications of wrongdoing and the increasingly complex environment within which the ODCE operates.

This restructuring has included the recruitment of a number of additional professional staff, including eight accounting professionals (one of whom was promoted to Enforcement Portfolio Manager), two Enforcement Portfolio Managers, two Enforcement Lawyers and a Digital Forensics Specialist, together with significant investment in a digital forensics laboratory, training and development. The recruitment and assimilation of a large number of new professional staff into a multi-disciplinary organisation that undertakes complex work in a fast-moving environment is a project that requires careful management.

In addition, one of the actions in the Government's package of Measures to Enhance Ireland’s Corporate, Economic and Regulatory Framework, published in November 2017, is the establishment of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) as a stand-alone agency.

The General Scheme of the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2018 to establish the ODCE as a stand-alone agency was published on 4 December 2018.  The General Scheme is currently subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Changing the structure of the ODCE from an office to a statutory agency will provide greater autonomy to the agency in relation to staffing resources and ensure it is better equipped to investigate increasingly complex breaches of company law. Sourcing of expertise and specialist staff, such as forensic accountants, will be enhanced under the agency model.

The transition of the ODCE to an independent Agency will give rise to additional expertise requirements and, as such, it is prudent that those considerations should be factored into developing the roles required for the new Agency , and the associated skill set, required of the appointees.

The establishment of the ODCE as a stand-alone agency is intended to:

- Enhance the ODCE’s independence, by providing it with more autonomy, particularly the ability to recruit the required specialist skills and expertise;

- Build on its existing expertise and experience;

- Strengthen its capability to investigate increasingly complex breaches of company law; and

- Build on the organisational and procedural reforms that have been implemented.