Tuesday 20 August 2019

Former bank boss 'wasn't asked to go before inquiry'

Former BOSI chief Mark Duffy
Former BOSI chief Mark Duffy
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The former boss of what was once Ireland's fourth biggest bank says he was never asked to give evidence at the Banking Inquiry.

Mark Duffy, who was in charge of Bank of Scotland (Ireland) between 1999 and 2009, told the Irish Independent in an exclusive interview that he was never approached to give evidence at the inquiry, but would have done so if he'd been required to do so.

"People have asked me why I didn't go to the Banking Inquiry," said Mr Duffy.

"Well, it's because, I presume, they didn't see a need for me to go the Banking Inquiry. I wouldn't have had any problem attending."

Bank of Scotland entered the Irish market in 1999 and aggressively grew its business here to become a major force in the Irish banking sector.

A long-awaited government-funded report published this week in the UK blasted business practices at the Irish arm of Bank of Scotland's Irish business (BOSI), claiming that the unit was engaged in risky and "uncontrolled" expansion as it battled during the boom.

Mr Duffy has criticised the report, saying that he wasn't even interviewed by British authorities who carried out the probe into the failure of HBOS, the owner of Bank of Scotland, which also included Halifax.

The report, published on Thursday, said that losses racked up at BOSI contributed significantly to the failure of owner HBOS in 2008.

HBOS was bought by Lloyds on the direction of the UK government, which also used £21bn (€31bn) in taxpayers' money to save HBOS.

"I was chief executive (of BOSI)," he said. "I know my role in this. I know what I've done wrong and I know what I could have done better," he says.

Meanwhile, the Banking Inquiry will hold a crisis meeting today in a last-ditch effort to save the probe from collapse.

It is understood members will demand more than 1,000 amendments to the report on the €5m Oireachtas investigation into the financial crash.

The revelation comes as several committee members insist the report is currently "not fit for purpose" and drastic changes need to be made before it is published.

Some inquiry members went so far as to say they are "alarmed" by the report presented to them by the committee's investigation team.

Irish Independent

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