EU chief prosecutor accuses Ireland of delaying financial crime investigation

‘We had to postpone everything because we didn’t receive this answer,’ says head of European Public Prosecutor Office

The European Union’s chief prosecutor has accused Irish authorities of delaying two investigations into financial crime by not replying to requests for cooperation.

Laura Codruța Kövesi, who heads the newly-formed European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO) that investigates and prosecutes the defrauding of EU cash, said the cases were on hold while she awaited a reply from Irish authorities.

“We have two cases connected with Ireland,” Ms Kövesi told The Irish Times.

“We have sent them the requests in these cases, and we didn’t receive any kind of reply,” she added. “Unfortunately, in our cases, we had to postpone everything because we didn’t receive this answer.”


Ms Kövesi said she was told that “the Minister of Justice is in charge to give us an answer, and they are working on this. But we are still waiting.”

Ireland has an opt-out from EU cooperation in the area of freedom, security and justice and is a non-participating member of the EPPO. Nevertheless, Ms Kövesi said Ireland still had to recognise the authority of EPPO in its work.

“Ireland is a non participating member state. I know that for Ireland, there are legislative difficulties in order to do that. But it is mandatory for them to recognise if EPPO is a competent authority, and they didn’t do it until now,” she said.

Ms Kövesi is the former chief prosecutor of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate and was named to lead the new EPPO office in its mandate of cracking down on VAT fraud, money laundering, and corruption in the use of EU funds.

Ireland is among five EU countries not to participate along with Denmark, which also has an opt-out, and Hungary, Poland, and Sweden which chose not to join.

Today marks one year since the Luxembourg-headquartered prosecutors office became operational. During its first year it received 4006 crime reports, opened 929 investigations, won court orders to freeze €259 million, achieved 28 indictments and four convictions. It received six private party complaints from Ireland.

Recent cases include the indictment of 10 Croatians for the use of bribery for the allocation of EU-funded construction projects worth €22.6 million, the seizure of over €15 million from various Italian companies that that allegedly disguised or misreported the origin of imported goods to dodge duties, and a string of arrests and seizures related to so-called VAT carousel cases.

The Department of Justice was asked for comment.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times