On 11th December last Bernard Madoff was arrested by police on allegations of major fraud. Yesterday, (three months later) he was taken away to jail in handcuffs from a court of law and will receive a jail sentence in June of up to 150 years. He is likely to spend the rest of his life in jail. While waiting for his trial Madoff was kept under house arrest.
On 18th December last Sean Fitzpatrick, then chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, resigned when it was revealed that he had engaged in some very suspect financial transactions. No investigation by the police took place and no arrests were made.
Mr Fitzpatrick is still walking around and can even head off to sunny climes when the Irish weather gets him down, despite the suspicious nature of the transactions. The Financial Regulator and the Government appear to have made an immediate judgement that Fitzpatrick had done nothing illegal. Surely that is for a properly resourced fraud squad to decide?
As Madoff rots in jail the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement is still considering his options on the Fitzpatrick case. Judging from past experience we can expect, at some point in the distant future, that a High Court inspector will be appointed to investigate.
That investigation will take anything up to six years before the matter returns to the ODCE who will then consider, for an unspecified period, his next move.
He may refer the matter to the DPP, but that is highly unusual but even if he does the DPP will also ponder his options for at least three or four years.
The most likely choice for the ODCE will be to try and get Fitzpatrick barred from acting as company director; this is the absolute minimum punishment for corporate crime.
It’s difficult to say how many years this will take as the ODCE has never successfully completed a major case. He has been on the National Irish Bank case since 1998, the Bailey brothers for about six years and Jim Flavin of DCC is still only at the High Court inspector stage. Very conservatively, we are looking at ten to fifteen years before even minimum justice is imposed.
America – Police, arrest, courts, jail – all within three months.
Ireland – No police, no arrests, no courts – No accountability, no justice, no hope.