Thursday 19 October 2017

Honohan was full of bluster over revelations, but now says it's time to move on

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

BACK in July, Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan said what everybody was thinking. There was a stink off the Anglo Tapes, and not just because the recordings featured bankers using colourful language. And it was Mr Honohan who spelled out just what that issue was.

When the controversy broke, he was in Germany and the tapes were as big a story there as at home. So it was no surprise that the issue dominated an interview he did with Germany's prestigious 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung' (FAZ) newspaper.

Mr Honohan made no bones about the importance of the revelations published by the Irish Independent.

Anglo had been "absolutely, deliberately" low-balling its financial position in order to get financial support from taxpayers, he told the German newspaper.

"That's what the tapes seem to say," he said.

"It looks like a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the position of the bank," he said.

This was new, and was of a different order of importance than the attitudes and language contained in the controversial recordings, he told the German paper.

It was the kind of directness that had made Mr Honohan a household name almost three years ago when in November 2010 he was the first senior public official to come out and tell the country that, yes, we were facing a bailout, and that it would happen soon.

Now he was again stepping up to the plate, at a time when the Anglo Tapes were dominating front pages not just here, but across Europe and the US.

The Central Bank had a responsibility to communicate with the gardai and assist them, "and we'll certainly not be slow to do that", he had said.

The tapes provided a unique insight into what was happening inside Anglo in the run-up to the ruinous bailout.

But suddenly, come September it seems there's "nothing to see here".

A three-month investigation inside the Central Bank appears to have concluded that there was nothing worth getting excited about after all.

So what are we to make of it?

Has the investigation been dropped because the Central Bank thinks there was no policy of deception after all?

If so, it certainly seems to fly in the face of the evidence put into the public domain by this newspaper and the Sunday Independent.

Can we really not believe the evidence of our own ears?

Five years after the disaster of the bank bailouts, the Anglo Tapes are still the closest we have come to getting to the heart of what went on inside our rotten lender.

For anyone who listened to the tapes, the decision not to bring in the gardai to at least investigate their contents is almost as shocking as the recordings themselves.

Irish Independent

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