Wednesday, 6 October 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
1. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he and or his officials engaged with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in advance of 30 September 2021 in respect of their role in a case involving former directors of a group (details supplied) in its dealings with High Court inspectors that are investigating the company affairs. [48486/21]
On March 23rd 2018 the Director of Corporate Enforcement applied to the High Court for the appointment of inspectors to Independent News and Media (INM) on the 23 March 2018, pursuant to section 748 of the Companies Act 2014.
The Director’s application for the appointment of inspectors followed a lengthy and wide-ranging investigation that identified several issues of serious concern relating to INM. That investigation was initiated on foot of a protected disclosure made to the ODCE.
Following his judgement of 4 September 2018, the President of the High Court, Mr. Justice Peter Kelly, on September 6th 2018, ordered, pursuant to section 748 of the Companies Act 2014, the appointment of inspectors to INM. The Court appointed inspectors are Mr. Sean Gillane, SC and Mr. Richard Fleck, CBE. The inspectors were appointed to investigate the various matters set out in their Terms of Reference as set out in the Order of the President of the High Court. This work is ongoing.
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 Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment have no function in such matters.
I am advised that the engagement between my officials and the ODCE on this matter has been very limited and relates only to the issue of indemnity.
Arising from certain issues relating to the ODCE’s investigation into INM, my officials engaged with the Director of Corporate Enforcement and put in place a legal indemnity in respect of the Director’s statutory functions. My officials have also engaged with the Court appointed inspectors to put in place a legal indemnity in respect of their duties as inspectors to INM.
As I outlined to the House on 17 April 2018, I consider that any public servant who acts properly and in accordance with his mandate and does not breach any laws or ethical principles should be indemnified by the State.