Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) investigations last year used a range of measures including statutory demands, production orders, search warrants, arrests for questioning, and High Court proceedings.
The ODCE annual report shows that, during 2019, 83 directors were restricted and a further eight were disqualified on foot of statutory undertakings issued by the ODCE in respect of insolvent companies.
The ODCE is led by director Ian Drennan (pictured).
In the annual report, Drennan says that the number of companies becoming insolvent will increase substantially, due to the pandemic.
The annual report says it is inevitable that company directors will face difficulties in meeting legal requirements, such as holding shareholder and annual general meetings.
“In reviewing the associated liquidators’ reports, the ODCE will, as is always the case, have regard to all relevant facts and circumstances in assessing company directors’ behaviour in the run-up to insolvency,” the annual report says.
Prominent ODCE cases last year included those against Independent News and Media and the former charity Console.
A total of 632 definitive decisions were made in respect of liquidators’ reports on insolvent companies’ directors.
And 22 directors were disqualified in respect of dissolved insolvent companies.
An additional 11 company directors were restricted and a further four were disqualified by the High Court on foot of liquidators’ applications arising from ODCE determinations.
In 2019, the organisation reviewed 254 complaints received from the public, up from 247 in 2018.
Cautions were issued to 28 companies, as an alternative to formal enforcement actions.
And action was taken on 23 directors’ loan infringements, to an approximate aggregate value of €27.2m, after ODCE orders.
The ODCE exercised the power of arrest on five occasions in 2019.
Liquidators, auditors, examiners and certain professional bodies, have statutory reporting obligations to the Office.
It acted on inputs from 872 liquidators’ reports last year, and 105 auditors’ indictable offence reports.
There were eight disclosures under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014
The cost of running the ODCE during 2019 was €4.3m, some 71% of its allocation for the year and an increase of 16% on the previous year.
There were 42 staff members at year-end.