Thursday 18 January 2018

Banking Inquiry: Outspoken US banker Bill Black addressing hearing, first opening statement rejected

Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

Concerned members of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry have branded their latest witness as "high risk", after they rejected his intended opening statement, the Irish Independent has learned.

Outspoken US banker and lawyer Bill Black is addressing the inquiry today but he forced to severely temper his presentation for fear of collapsing the inquiry or other cases pending before the courts.

Sources have confirmed that Prof Black sent a presentation of almost 100 pages in length that was last night described as "highly troublesome" in many ways.

In his revised draft, Prof Black reportedly accused the Inquiry and its legal team of nobbling his views.

Banking Inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch
Banking Inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch

"He is a high risk witness," said one inquiry member. "The libel laws in Ireland are very different than the US and we are also bound by severe restrictions. There is a lot of concern as to what he might say when he appears before us."

Another inquiry member added: "He is of grave concern to us as to what he might say. None of us want to collapse anything or risk collapsing anything. But he looks set to be a boisterous witness."

The Banking Inquiry is highly restricted in the questions it can ask its witnesses but also in how questions can be asked.

Prof Black has been severely critical of a previous inquiry witness, Prof Peter Nyberg, the Finnish academic who produced a report into Ireland's financial crash. He branded that report as "pathetically weak".

The committee met for almost four hours today to be briefed by their legal advisors as to what questions they can ask of Prof Black.

The Inquiry will also hear from Mario Nava of the European Commission today on his views relating to banking regulation, supervision and financial stability in Ireland and the eurozone.

Irish Independent

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