Watchdog to scrutinise €30m fees for bank advice
THE Dail public spending watchdog is to scrutinise copies of the bills submitted by firms that were paid €30m for advising the State on the banking bailout.
They include legal firm Arthur Cox, which got more than €10m; accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which got more than €6m; and financial advisers Merrill Lynch, which got €7m for nine months' work.
At a Public Accounts committee meeting yesterday, Labour TD Pat Rabbitte said the figures seemed astounding, and yet the advice given "left a lot to be desired".
He asked: "Is there anything we can do about these extraordinary fees or do these guys just think they can name any figure?"
Department of Finance secretary general Kevin Cardiff admitted it was not possible to monitor how many hours were worked by the firms or how many staff were assigned to the task.
He agreed to supply the committee with copies of the invoices.
"I can tell you honestly that the money spent was well worth the money. The risk of not taking that legal support could have cost us a lot more," he said.
Mr Cardiff admitted the firms hired had potential conflicts of interest, given that they also carried out work for banks and wealthy clients.
But they all had "Chinese Walls" (information barriers to keep project teams separate) to avert any problems.
"We haven't come across instances where they felt compromised," he said.
The committee heard that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) provided a report to the Government which stated that only 3.2pc of Anglo's €71bn in loans might not be fully paid back. But most of the bank's property loans will be taken over by NAMA at less than half their original value by the end of this month.
However, Mr Cardiff defended the record of PwC, saying it had been brought in at short notice.