Friday 20 October 2017

Honohan forced into Anglo Tapes climbdown

THE Governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown and now admits the bank will hand over its analysis of the Anglo Tapes to gardai.

Two days after insisting that the notorious tapes did not reveal new evidence of potentially criminal acts, Mr Honohan decided to pass new information to gardai.

The Central Bank will offer gardai a breakdown of why exactly it has not asked them to move ahead with a criminal probe into the tapes published by the Irish Independent, 'Sunday Independent' and Independent.ie this summer.

The Central Bank has not completely changed its mind on the issue, but the news will still be seen as a climbdown after two days of pressure over the issue

including a grilling for Mr Honohan at the Oireachtas Finance Committee.

Mr Honohan is effectively passing the buck on the final decision on whether the Anglo Tapes do contain evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing.

Last night, politicians who had criticised the earlier statement by the Central Bank said that the change of tack now sparked fresh concerns.

Labour TD Ciaran Lynch, the chairman of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, said:

"I suggested the Governor revisited his position, and I welcome that he has now done so."

Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell said he "very much welcomed the decision" and he said that Mr Honohan had "taken on board" concerns raised by the committee members.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the dramatic U-turn showed a worrying lack of judgment on behalf of the Central Bank and Mr Honohan.

"It does call into the question the capacity of the Central Bank to make important decisions," Mr McGrath said. "The judgment of the bank has now been called into question."

Independent TD Stephen Donnelly welcomed the decision to go to gardai for a second view.

But said he still cannot understand how Mr Honohan found there were no grounds for a criminal investigation.

"Having sat through Governor Honohan's evidence at the Finance Committee, I am still perplexed at how he found no evidence of deception," the Wicklow TD said.

The startling revelations in the Irish Independent's Anglo Tapes investigation left the Irish public furious – and made headlines around the world.

The ensuing scandal prompted an immediate investigation by the Central Bank, which doubles as the financial regulator.

But on Tuesday it said it had not found any new issues relating to suspected criminal offences, following its examination of the Anglo Tapes.

This sparked incredulity from across the political divide, and came just before Mr Honohan was due at the Oireachtas Finance Committee on Wednesday.

TDs and Senators pushed Mr Honohan to explain how he had made the decision not to send a file on the content of the controversial tapes either to the gardai or the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

However, the Governor admitted to the Committee that he only listed to the extracts of tapes from inside Anglo published by this newspaper and by the Sunday Independent.

FRACTION

Our newspapers made about two hours' worth of tapes public, but this is just a fraction of the total recordings made inside Anglo.

Then, in a statement issued last night, Mr Honohan confirmed that the Central Bank's own analysis of the tapes would now be handed over to gardai.

The statement said: "I wish to inform you that I intend to share with An Garda Síochana, on a without prejudice basis, the Central Bank's analysis of the issues arising in the tapes which led the Central Bank to conclude that no new issues have been identified that relate to suspected criminal offences having occurred."

By Donal O'Donovan

Irish Independent

Also in Business