Fraud squad and corporate body due to meet over FAI

Fraud squad and corporate body due to meet over FAI
Ian Drennan, chief executive of the ODCE. Picture: Sam Boal

The Garda’s fraud bureau is set to meet with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) this week to map out a joint response to an audit of FAI finances.

Considerations within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) regarding its role in any investigation come as it continues to be “very depleted” in its staffing complement, with an expected competition to boost its numbers still awaited.

Sport Ireland sent the report of a commissioned audit to both the gardaí and the ODCE last week, sparking suggestions of an immediate Garda investigation into the FAI’s use of €2.9m of state funding per year.

“People out there seem to expect that a Garda investigation starts straight away and would be done within weeks,” said one source, “but this will be slow enough and there could be legal challenges.”

Sources said there are a number of possible scenarios regarding the investigation:

  • A parallel co-ordinated GNECB investigation with the ODCE;
  • ODCE lead with GNECB assistance;
  • GNECB lead with ODCE assistance;
  • Sole ODCE investigation or sole GNECB investigation.

Sources indicate that given the ODCE has been investigating FAI finances for the last three months that they may be best-placed to continue the investigation, possibly with the assistance of GNECB ion certain areas.

Members from the GNECB are seconded to the ODCE, but answer to the latter’s chief executive Ian Drennan.

“You would expect a lot of the investigation would be done by the ODCE — there is no point two bodies investigating the same thing,” said a source. “The ODCE can investigate criminal conduct. Their focus is on company law, but if criminality emerges they are quite entitled to investigate.”

The GNECB is currently conducting a number of parallel, co-ordinated investigations with the ODCE.

Sources said the GNECB continues to be “very depleted” in its staffing complement, with around 50 officersuardsg to investigate, when those seconded to other agencies are removed.

At the start of January, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris sought a business case for increased staffing at specialist crime bureaus. Despite expectations of a competition for the GNECB, none have happened to date.

Some sources said GNECB staffing levels should be closer to 100.

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