More than 350 bankers and others linked to the finance sector have been interviewed by the fraud squad over alleged white collar crime at Anglo Irish Bank, it was revealed today.
The massive inquiry by Garda detectives and corporate investigators is probing 10 strands of financial activity at the nationalised lender and seized 100,000 documents.
Dermot Ahern, Justice Minister, said the investigation has been extended outside Ireland.
“The reprehensible events at Anglo Irish Bank have caused enormous damage to our country,” he said.
“There is a clear and overwhelming public interest that, where it is shown that anyone involved in those events broke the law, they should face justice.”
The mammoth trawl, headed by Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne and the Director of Corporate Enforcement, Paul Appleby, will examine thousands of emails, phone calls and bank records.
The team is made up of 27 gardaí and 16 officers from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. The DPP has also retained two Senior Counsel and one junior to advise investigators.
Two arrests have been made – former chief executive Sean FitzPatrick and financial director William McAteer – but no charges have been brought.
Mr Ahern told the Dáil: “I well understand that the fury of people at what happened at the bank. There is understandable indignation that no-one has yet been brought before the courts.
“It would, however, do a huge disservice to those people to pretend that there is some simple or quick way of dealing with this matter that will be effective.
“What is important is that what happened is systematically and forensically investigated as quickly as possible, with a view to presenting cases to the Director of Public Prosecutions. That is exactly what is happening – without fear or favour.”
Two main strands of investigation include the so-called bed and breakfast loan of €7bn from Irish Life & Permanent to Anglo to shore up the deposit book and loans to a golden circle of 10 to buy shares in the bank helping sustain the stock value.
Mr Appleby said in March it would be several months before the investigation would be complete.