Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement Data
106. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of cases that were investigated or are under investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019. [45699/19]
107. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of convictions that have been made by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019. [45700/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 107 together.
Section 949(3) of the Companies Act 2014 provides that the Director of Corporate Enforcement shall be independent in the performance of his statutory functions. I, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation have no direct function in such matters.
I am informed that figures for cases investigated, by year received, and convictions in the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 are as set out in tabular form below:
|2017||2018||2019 (as of 4 November)|
|Cases investigated received in year||467||504||355|
|Convictions (by DPP)||2||2||1, plus 1 dismissed (under the Probation Act)|
The number of investigations per se does not represent the totality of the work of the ODCE; firstly because of the volume of liquidation cases and secondly because not all investigations result in a prosecution. As will be seen from the ODCE’s Annual Reports, complaints are not always relevant to the remit of the Office; where they are within the remit the matter is investigated. It should be noted that not all investigations are of a criminal nature and the ODCE policy is to seek rectification of breaches in the first instance (where the matter is appropriate for such action).
The ODCE also exercised its right to make certain compliance applications to the High Court under Section 371 of the Companies Act 1963, now Section 797 of the Companies Act 2014, to secure compliance with Orders sought.
However, it should be borne in mind that, working within the context of a rectification policy, many issues can be addressed by exercise of powers without the necessity of bringing issues to the Courts for determination, for example: production of registers; directing the holding of Annual General Meetings; production of minutes of meetings; and regularising breaches of the director loan provisions which, in 2018, secured the rectification on a non-statutory basis, of suspected infringements of the Companies Act 2014, in relation to Directors’ loans in 18 cases, to an aggregate value of €6.1m approximately.
The ODCE took a decision in recent years to concentrate its resources on more serious and complex investigations, the result of which is usually the submission of a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for consideration, as opposed to a summary prosecution. It is important to appreciate that the purpose of a criminal investigation is not to secure a conviction. Rather, the purpose is to establish the facts. Thereafter, it is a matter for the DPP to determine, having regard to the facts and to potentially relevant offences, whether the direction of charges is appropriate and in the public interest.
In terms of prosecutions, the Director of Corporate Enforcement is only statutorily empowered to initiate summary prosecutions (i.e. prosecutions of relatively minor offences in the District Court).
More serious alleged breaches of company law are prosecuted on indictment in the Circuit Court and only the Director of Public Prosecutions (“DPP”) can direct that charges be preferred on indictment.