Business Irish

Sunday 24 September 2017

Lenihan didn't call German authorities to inform them of bank scheme

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

The Government made no phone calls to Germany, Europe's largest economy, in the immediate aftermath of the bank guarantee scheme -- despite making calls to the French and UK authorities and the ECB.

In answer to a parliamentary question, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan outlined the phone calls he made in September 2008 when the controversial guarantee scheme was agreed by the Cabinet.

Mr Lenihan denied phoning anyone on the night of September 29 to "seek advice" on the guarantee or any other options for resolving the crisis.

However, he did make calls to various European partners, informing them of what happened.

Mr Lenihan phoned the Irish ambassador to France, the French finance minister Christine Lagarde, the Irish ambassador to the UK, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling and, finally, the president of the ECB Jean Claude Trichet.

Contact

Mr Lenihan has kept in contact over the last two years with Ms Lagarde, but it was not thought necessary to contact either the German chancellor Angela Merkel or the then German finance minister, Peer Steinbruck.

The phone call between Mr Lenihan and Mr Darling has been reported as being extremely frank, with Mr Darling accusing the Government of acting unilaterally and jeopardising the health of other banking systems.

At the time of the guarantee, Mr Lenihan said it would be followed by other European governments and this was borne out. However, the scale of the Irish scheme took markets and European governments by surprise.

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