Thursday 18 January 2018

Former Euro bank boss Trichet will tell about Ireland's bank crash

Jean-Claude Trichet
Jean-Claude Trichet
John Downing

John Downing

Former European Central Governor Jean Claude Trichet will next week give evidence to the Oireachtas inquiry into the banking system collapse.

But Mr Trichet will give his account of events in 2008 and its aftermath to the inquiry not at Leinster House, where hearings have been going on since before Christmas, but in the margins of a public meeting in Dublin on Thursday of next week.

Despite this departure from regular proceedings, the inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch has insisted that the former ECB boss’s evidence will be in order and legally admissible.

“The engagement provides an opportunity for the inquiry to gather evidence both for its final report and for engagement with witnesses,” the Labour TD said.

Mr Trichet was in charge of the Frankfurt-based ECB when the Irish Government guaranteed bank deposits in September 2008 and when Ireland was forced to take an EU-ECB-IMF bailout in November 2010. But for a long time he said it would be a breach of protocol to come to Leinster House and testify at the inquiry and his engagement next week is a compromise.

Another committee member, Deputy Kieran O'Donnell of Fine Gael, said members were disappointed Mr Trichet would not attend a regular committee hearing. But he was satisfied that the compromise worked out was the best possible way of advancing the work.

Mr O'Donnell was speaking after a private meeting of the inquiry committee which also considered a legal letter from the family of the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. In the letter the relatives raise concerns about defending Mr Lenihan’s reputation and the need for a potential hearing for family members.

“The committee is very mindful of its obligations to be fair in all proceedings,” Mr O'Donnell said. But he said he could not discuss the prospect of a potential input from the Lenihan family at this stage.

On Wednesday the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) executives will face questions from the committee as the parliamentary inquiry moves up a gear. All witnesses have been given notice that they are compelled to attend and being examined under strict witness guidelines.

NAMA chairman, Frank Daly, and chief executive, Brendan McDonagh, will be asked how they handled the revaluation of assets they took on from banks and property developers in 2009 after the property crash.

They also face questions about how they sought best value for taxpayers.

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