Saturday 22 July 2017

Series of inquiries into bank practices nears end

Emmet Oliver

A Number of overlapping inquiries into Anglo Irish Bank are now reaching finality, some three years after the lender was nationalised.

The key inquiry is a joint Garda/Office of Corporate Enforcement inquiry, which is probing a range of controversial transactions at Anglo.

This investigation has been stymied by a number of so-called reluctant witnesses who have refused to co-operate, but it is scheduled to conclude early in the New Year.

After that it is up to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) whether charges are brought against specific individuals.

The investigation is looking at loans executives were given to buy bank shares in 2008 and whether such loans breached the Companies Act 1963.

It is also looking at director's loans taken out by former chief executive Sean FitzPatrick and whether they breached company law. The loans were moved out of Anglo Irish Bank at year end and "warehoused" at another lender, Irish Nationwide.

The inquiry is also look at a "back-to-back" deposit exchanged between Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P) and Anglo in September 2008 that put a positive gloss on Anglo's then depleted deposit book. The inquiry is also looking at a loan given to Willie McAteer in 2008, again to buy shares in the bank.

Another major inquiry has been undertaken by the former Comptroller & Auditor General John Purcell on behalf of the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (CARB).

This has found enough prima facie evidence against several ex-Anglo directors, including Mr FitzPatrick, to warrant a full disciplinary hearing, to see whether as chartered accountants they breached the by-laws of the profession.

However, the DPP has halted this inquiry pending the outcome of the other inquiry.

Other organisations have also put a halt to their inquiries into Anglo, with the Financial Regulator saying it won't pursue the issue further until the gardai and the Director of Corporate Enforcement are finished.

The auditors to Anglo during the period when the various controversial transactions took place was Ernst & Young, and this company is also facing a disciplinary hearing from the Chartered Accountants.

Irish Independent

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