CRO has been a saviour for firms with no access to credit
John Trethowan is a career banker who was appointed to set up and run the Credit Review Office (CRO) by then finance minster Brian Lenihan in December 2009.
A long-time employee of Northern Bank, he was parachuted into National Irish Bank to sort out the business after the DIRT scandal in the late 1990s.
The CRO was formed in response to calls for the banks to free up lending to small firms that had been squeezed by the credit crunch and ensuing banking crisis that started in 2008.
Any SME that has a credit application turned down by AIB or Bank of Ireland can appeal the decision to the CRO. The application is then reviewed by an assessor employed by the CRO on a part-time basis, who then makes a recommendation on the application.
Mr Trethowan then recommends whether or not the bank releases the funds. Although the banks are not compelled to follow his recommendation, they have accepted every decision the CRO has made so far.
To date, the CRO has formally reviewed 117 cases, helping to overturn the banks' decisions in 69 cases.
Another 80 cases have been resolved before the CRO had made a decision. The office has, however, received many more informal queries, which have been dealt with but have not required the formal process.
It was revealed last month that Mr Trethowan took home more than €180,000 during the first two years of the office.