Government claims ODCE ‘was given adequate resources’

The Government has issued a strong denial to Sinn Féin claims that funding increase requests from the State’s corporate enforcer were turned down.

Government claims ODCE ‘was given adequate resources’

Last week, in the wake of the acquittal of Sean FitzPatrick, it was claimed in the Dáil by Gerry Adams that requests from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement were turned down.

Those claims came amid wide condemnation of the ODCE and its role in the collapse of three separate trials involving former Anglo Irish Bank management.

However, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor’s Department of Jobs has issued a denial to those claims.

According to Ms Mitchell O’Connor’s department, on March 16, 2011, the secretaries general of the then Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and the then Department of Justice and Law Reform met with the Garda Commissioner and officials from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

It said the meeting was arranged to ensure that all appropriate resources were available to the gardaí and the ODCE to progress their investigations.

“It was made clear at the meeting that the independence of all the agencies involved in carrying out the investigations was fully respected and there was a clear desire at all levels that nothing would be done which would in any way impinge on that,” a statement to the Irish Examiner has said.

In response to inquiries, both “the gardaí and the ODCE stressed that as far as they were concerned they had adequate resources”.

Then Garda commissioner Martin Callinan is said to have stressed that both himself and his predecessor had at all times ensured that the garda team had all the resources they required.

“For their part, the ODCE were satisfied with the resources available to them and had received anything that they looked for. If they felt at any stage that anything further was required they would, of course, look for it,” the statement added.

Both the gardaí and ODCE were asked to reflect again on whether there was anything at all by way of additional help that could be made available to them in their work. It was stated that any such requests would be responded to positively.

Then, in April 2013 a revised Workforce Plan was submitted by the ODCE identifying a need for five accountants and an IT expert. This requirement subsequently grew to seven accountants.

Sanction for this request was eventually secured from then Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin in October 2014.

This culminated with the campaign being launched in November 2015 under the auspices of PAS. After the normal recruitment processes were undertaken, a panel of eight “Forensic Accountants/Investigators” was established.

It was then from April through to July 2016, 5 Forensic Accountants had been formally recruited for the Office. The Department subsequently asked PAS to run another specialist competition to allow it recruit two more Investigators/Forensic Accountants to bring the cadre to seven and that campaign is in process, having been advertised earlier this year.

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