Court appointed inspectors in INM case have cost over €0.5m to date: ODCE

The state's corporate law watchdog has spent more than half a million euro on court-appointed inspectors to further its inquiry into Independent News and Media.

Court appointed inspectors in INM case have cost over €0.5m to date: ODCE

The state's corporate law watchdog has spent more than half a million euro on court-appointed inspectors to further its inquiry into Independent News and Media.

The figure was revealed in the 2018 annual report of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, which noted that work is still ongoing in this regard.

"Following an investigation into allegations made to the ODCE by INM's former Chief Executive Officer, on March 23, 2018, the ODCE applied to the High Court for the appointment of Inspectors to INM," Ian Drennan, director of Corporate Enforcement said in the report.

The investigation was conducted over approximately 15 months, involved the issuing of 33 statutory requirements for the provision of documents, explanations and assistance to INM and other parties.

This evidence was reviewed, with "a number of issues of serious concern relating to INM" identified.

ODCE determined that to progress the investigation further required the deployment of more powerful investigate tools. Court-appointed inspectors with special powers, including compellability and examinations of relevant persons on oath, were assigned to the case.

The Inspectors delivered their first Interim Report to the High Court in April 2019 and are continuing their investigation.

To date, the investigation has cost he ODCE €550,000.

The report details the ODCE's work in terms of corporate and civil enforcement.

This included the conviction of an individual under the offence of Fraudulent Trading. This person was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, with the final six months suspended.

The Director of Public Prosecutions also directed a number of charges against an individual under the Companies Act 1963, the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 and the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 respectively. A trial date before the Circuit Criminal Court is awaited.

In terms of civil enforcement, the ODCE restricted or disqualified 160 company directors as a consequence of their behaviour as directors of insolvent companies. A further 21 company directors were disqualified. Some €6 million in unlawful director loans were rectified and cautions and warnings were issued to 63 companies and their directors.

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