Court to clear way for trawl at NIB
TWO High Court inspectors will be appointed on Monday to trawl through the books at NIB, taking the number of inquiries at the besieged bank to seven.
Former NIB chief executive Jim Lacey yesterday became the first public casualty of the banking crisis when he resigned his two state positions and high profile fund-raising role within Fianna Fail.
Mr Lacey stressed he had resigned as chairman of the Irish Aviation Authority and from the Dublin Docklands board ``for personal reasons''.
He said it should ``not be interpreted in any way as implying any impropriety by me in my previous role with NIB''.
Meanwhile, it emerged last night that irregularities in customer charges have been located at a fifth NIB branch in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin.
The branch joins those in Carrick-on-Shannon, Carndonagh, Cork and Walkinstown in Dublin as the focus of the most serious breach of customer trust in the history of Irish banking.
The appointment of the High Court Inspectors, former rugby internationals Tom Grace of Price Waterhouse and retired Supreme Court Judge John Blayney SC is being sought by Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Mary Harney.
They will begin trawling through accounts at all 60 NIB branches while other probes are under way by the Central Bank, Garda fraud unit, Office of Consumer Affairs and Arthur Andersen consultants.
National Australia Bank confirmed yesterday its own inquiry by Arthur Andersen would determine whether dismissals or management changes would result from the secret loading of interest rates and excess fee charging.
NIB chairman Alex Spain also confirmed he was chairman of the bank's internal audit committee at the time customers were being defrauded but he insisted there was no reason for him to resign.
Mr Spain said neither NIB's internal audit committee or its board of directors were ever told that branch level audits had undercovered systematic overcharging of customers.
However, he said his memory of these events ``was subject to the normal frailties of human recollection'' and if anything changed, he would consider the situation.