Paul Appleby: 'The point of a High Court inspection is to get to the bottom of things'

THE Director of Corporate Enforcement Paul Appleby has hit back at criticism of his office over the appointment of inspectors to investigate DCC and its former chief executive Jim Flavin after the Supreme Court found they had illegally dealt in Fyffes' shares.

DCC had opposed the appointment of senior counsel Bill Shipsey as inspector to the firm, arguing it was an "unnecessary" and "disproportionate" move. Shipsey published his final report in January and said no further action should be taken by Appleby against the company or Flavin.

But Appleby told the Sunday Tribune last week: "Our concern at the start, and there was broad public concern, [was] about the circumstance that gave rise to the civil insider dealing action.

"We felt there were unanswered questions at the end of those proceedings. We argued before the High Court that many questions remained unanswered and the High Court agreed with us and did not accept the company's response at the time that further investigation was not needed.

"The point of a High Court inspection is to get to the bottom of things. That was achieved with the inspectors' report. He essentially concluded that there was no deliberate wish to evade the law. We obviously accept that. We felt, and still feel, that we discharged a valuable public-interest role in uncovering many of the events and issues."

The state is likely to foot the €1.4m cost of Shipsey's probe. He found Flavin and DCC had made a "costly error" when illegally dealing in Fyffes shares in 2000.

Appleby also said last week that he hopes to conclude his investigation into Anglo Irish Bank by the end of the year. About a third of his staff are working on the Anglo inquiry.