Business Banking Inquiry

Friday 20 October 2017

Banking Inquiry: 'Regulator was asleep at the wheel' - ESRI's John FitzGerald

Professor John FitzGerald arrives at Leinster House to give evidence before the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry
Professor John FitzGerald arrives at Leinster House to give evidence before the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry

Niall O'Connor and Clodagh Sheehy

THE country's Financial Regulator was "asleep at the wheel" and brushed aside the ESRI's legitimate concerns about the economy, the Banking Inquiry has heard.

During his third hour of evidence, Professor John Fitzgerald detailed how he brought his fears to the attention of senior figures in the Central Bank.

He said that if he properly scrutinised the financial books of the banks, he would have detected that a crisis was looming.

"I should have looked at the numbers," Prof Fitzgerald said, again expressing regret over his role as a senior figure within the economic think-tank.

Asked by Fianna Fáil senator Marc MacSharry whether the response from the Regulator to his concerns was "unsatisfactory", Prof Fitzgerald agreed that his concerns were not properly heeded.

"It seemed to me that they were brushing aside (my concerns)," he said.

"I had a duty to warn them," he added.

Prof Fitzgerald stated that the Regulator responded to his warning saying "We've got your warning, we think things are okay and that's the end of it."

The Oireachtas hearings are continuing.

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