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Tuesday 28 February 2017

Laws to block bank bonuses go through Dail today

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

NEW laws attempting to legally block €40m in AIB bonuses will be rushed through the Dail today and tomorrow.

There are concerns that 91 banking executives, who have already started legal proceedings, could still pursue their cases and get awarded the massive bonuses.

The Government yesterday was still making changes to strengthen the legislation which will be introduced in the Dail today.

Ministers are concerned that legal action could still be taken by some of the 2,400 banking executives affected -- in particular, the 91 executives who have already commenced legal proceedings.

The new laws are designed to back up and underpin the letter sent by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to AIB on Monday night warning that future state cash was conditional on the bonuses not being paid.

Mr Lenihan has insisted the move to block bonuses is "lawful" and based on the advice of the Attorney General.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen conceded the Government was in "difficult territory" in trying to legally block the multi-million bonuses

But he insisted no more bonuses would be paid out and claimed the Government's plan could withstand "legal scrutiny".

Embarrassing

The Government believes that only one bonus of €160,000 to John Foy, a foreign exchange trader with AIB, will be paid.

But Labour leader Eamon Gilmore warned there were 91 cases already launched and the bank may still have to pay out some of the bonuses.

He referred to a case in the 1950s which determined that the Oireachtas cannot intervene in a legal case which has already commenced.

"If that's the case, we're in territory where the minister has sent his letter but bonuses will still end up having to be paid," Mr Gilmore said.

"Are we in a situation that the minister is shutting the door after the bonuses have bolted?"

Earlier, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin denied the bonuses controversy and subsequent U-turn had been embarrassing for the Government.

From the outset, ministers accepted payment of the bonuses was "very annoying" and "galling" and they had attempted to find a solution.

"It was definitively the right decision because taxpayers' money was going into these banks."

Irish Independent

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