Anglo investigation could take two years, court told

IT could take up to two years before the completion of any criminal prosecution arising out of the investigation into the affairs of state-owned Anglo Irish Bank, the Commercial Court heard yesterday.

Paul O’Higgins, counsel for the Director of Corporate Enforcement, said no charges had been brought yet and it was likely to be a year or two before any prosecution is completed, including any appeal which may be taken.

Mr O’Higgins was speaking after the court heard Anglo has agreed to limited disclosure in relation to its previous assertion of legal privilege over some electronic documents seized by the director as part of his investigation into the bank.

The electronic material and data relates to some 20 persons, employees of the bank, and covers the period January 2008 to February 2009.

Last month, the court heard Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, had urged the bank “at the highest level” to look again at whether it should maintain the assertion of legal professional privilege over the documents because it was delaying the investigation.

The general nature of the Anglo investigation is into possible offences under the Companies Acts involving the giving by a company of financial assistance for the purchase of its own shares.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the offer from the bank would substantially advance the investigation and he was prepared to grant an order on the terms of limited disclosure and told the parties to come up with an agreed wording in a week’s time.


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