Published 06/02/2011 | 05:00
AS the State's cost watchdog, he raised many red flags on rotten things in Irish institutions. Now he's reporting on what happened in Anglo Irish Bank.
A career civil servant who trained in IT and accounting, John Purcell became became Comptroller and Auditor-General (C&AG) in 1994. He sounded alarm bells on bank governance issues long before the current Armageddon was unleashed. In 1999/2000, he found things weren't what they might be when he examined the practices used by the Central Bank to regulate the banks.
In 2007, he called for an independent review of how the Financial Regulator carried out inspections of individual banks, saying those carrying more risk should be subject to a higher level of supervision. He also reported on the use of bogus non-resident accounts during the lateEighties and Nineties.
In 2003, he warned about the potential €1bn cost of the Government's agreement to indemnify religious orders against child abuse compensation claims. He highlighted the insanity of the HSE's doomed PPARS venture in 2005, which cost taxpayers €150m, and the waste of the failed €52m e-voting project.
In 2008, he criticised Fas's splurging of €1.7m on an unnecessary jobs website.
He retired as C&AG in May 2008, but wasn't idle for long. The Institute of Chartered Accountants appointed him to probe into the issues concerning directors' loans and other matters at Anglo. In December last, he found that Sean FitzPatrick, David Drumm, Willie McAteer and also Irish Life & Permanent's Peter Fitzpatrick have 'prima facie' cases to answer. His final report, due out in April, will deal with Anglo's auditor, Ernst & Young.
He shies away from media comment, preferring to let his work speak for him. It has spoken volumes to date.
Sunday Indo Business