Gary Fitzgerald: 'last resort'

A Green Party local election candidate has pledged to bring private criminal prosecutions against Irish bank bosses who engaged in wrongdoing, if the state enforcement agencies fail to do so.

Gary Fitzgerald, a lawyer who recently won a landmark case against the state securing access for the first time to certain confidential cabinet documents, has already made formal complaints, about what he says are "a number of serious breaches of criminal law", to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Criminal Assets Bureau.

While he says he will only act as a "last resort" if the authorities do not investigate and prosecute these offences, Fitzgerald says that if they fail to do so, "I will exercise my right as a citizen to bring private criminal prosecutions."

"It seems clear that senior bankers, household names in some cases, have been involved in serious criminal activities. I have launched this initiative to ensure that they face the full force of the law."

Fitzgerald is planning to use a 19th century act to initiate the prosecutions. Under the Indictable Offences Act 1849, every individual has the right to start a criminal prosecution.

The Green Party activist, who is standing in Dublin City Council's Cabra/Glasnevin ward, says that possible offences committed by some bankers include breaching section 202 of the 1990 Companies act – which requires directors to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the accounts of a company are a "true and fair view of the state of affairs of the company" – and Section 60 (15) of the 1963 Companies Act, which prohibits a company from giving financial assistance for the purchase of its own shares. The sections carry jail terms of up to five and two years respectively.