Wednesday 16 October 2019

Finance Minister appoints new Central Bank governor despite New Zealand probe

Mr Makhlouf is currently being investigated about whether he misled the New Zealand government about an alleged hacking of the country's budget last month.

Gabriel Makhlouf. Photo: Bloomberg
Gabriel Makhlouf. Photo: Bloomberg
Minister of Finance Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Tony Gavin

Callum Lavery

FINANCE Minister Paschal Donohoe has appointed Gabriel Makhlouf as the next Central Bank governor despite an ongoing investigation into Mr Makhlouf in New Zealand.

Mr Makhlouf is due to leave his role at the New Zealand Treasury at the end of this month but he now must deal with an inquiry into whether he misled the government about alleged hacking of the country's budget last month.

The Finance Minister was placed under pressure to pause the appointment of the next Central Bank Governor until the investigation had concluded.

However, speaking on RTE Radio 1's ' News At One' today, Mr Donohoe said that he has now appointed Mr Makhlouf to the role after a "rigorous" process.

"I am very conscious here that an inquiry is underway into a political issue in another country.

"I don’t want to comment on that inquiry because I run the risk of being a participant in the review that is underway.

"I am very conscious that we need to have utter integrity and utter independence in the Central Bank and that is what will happen.

"Under the legislation that is there at the moment, I have now appointed Mr Makhlouf.

"That has happened at the end of a very rigorous and independent process at the end of which his name was selected and recommended to me," he concluded.

Labour Party TD and former Tanaiste Joan Burton called for appointment process to be stalled until the controversy around MR Makhlouf was settled.

She said it was “not good enough” that the Irish government was silent on the investigation into Mr Makhlouf.

After hearing the news of his appointment before a proper investigation, Ms Burton said the Finance Minister could "jeopardise" the integrity of the Central Bank.

"I asked Minister Donohoe to comment on the investigation in New Zealand into the person he has appointed as the new Governor of the Central Bank. He refused to do so. He simply reiterated that the new Governor has already been appointed by Government.

"I believe the Minister should suspend this appointment pending the results of the investigation in New Zealand. Integrity and transparency must be at the heart of national financial management. We cannot jeopardise that confidence by appointing someone under investigation."

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