Monday 25 September 2017

Boucher and Murphy get 'all clear' in fitness probe by Central Bank

BoI chief Richie Boucher. Photo: Mark Condren
BoI chief Richie Boucher. Photo: Mark Condren
Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

A 12-month probe into bank directors who held senior positions in Irish banks prior to the crash, and still hold positions today, concluded that there is no reason to suspect the fitness and probity of Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher and EBS chief executive Fergus Murphy.

The Central Bank said yesterday evening that it had finished a probe into directors who sat on the boards of the six Irish banks in 2008 and still retain a seat by giving the all-clear to the only two senior bankers who still hold a board position.

The decision will be a relief to Mr Boucher who was head of corporate banking until the start of 2006 and lent billions to builders and property investors. He later served as a member of Bank of Ireland's 10-man risk committee which was meant to protect the bank from the excessive lending.

Mr Boucher said earlier this year that he had made mistakes. "Clearly, you regret mistakes and misjudgments you have made in the past. I have never shied away from that fact," he added.

EBS

Mr Murphy was appointed chief executive of EBS shortly before the crisis rocked the building society and forced it to merge with Allied Irish Banks.

Both men hired an expensive US consultancy firm to help them prepare their submissions to the Central Bank's review.

While the probe examined the roles of other directors, they had all resigned before yesterday's announcement which meant that the Central Bank report only applied to Richie Boucher and Fergus Murphy.

The Central Bank said yesterday that it "investigated more thoroughly their individual roles and responsibilities during the period leading up to the present banking crisis.

"In respect of any directors who are to continue in their roles into 2012 and beyond, and who were in place prior to 2008, the Central Bank has concluded that, based on the evidence presently available to the Central Bank, it has no reason to suspect those individuals.

"In some cases this decision was taken internally within the Central Bank, and in others the Central Bank sought an external opinion on the material available to the Central Bank."

The Central Bank did not give any further details.

Challenge

Lawyers for Bank of Ireland warned the Central Bank earlier this year that the Bank of Ireland could challenge the Central Bank Reform Act 2010, which sets out the "fit and proper" regime for senior bankers.

The partially state-owned bank reportedly said that there could be legal issues in the Central Bank attempting to remove any of its employees, including Section 34 of the Constitution, which states that "justice shall be administered in courts".

Irish Independent

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