Business Irish

Thursday 20 June 2019

Central Bank appointment cannot be stalled, insists Donohoe

Probe: Gabriel Makhlouf is currently chief of the New Zealand Treasury and is due to take up his role with the Central Bank in Dublin in September. Photo: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg
Probe: Gabriel Makhlouf is currently chief of the New Zealand Treasury and is due to take up his role with the Central Bank in Dublin in September. Photo: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg

Kevin Doyle and Donal O'Donovan

The appointment of the new Governor of the Central Bank cannot be stalled despite a major inquiry into Gabriel Makhlouf's actions as New Zealand Treasury chief, Paschal Donohoe said yesterday.

The investigation in New Zealand is into Mr Makhlouf's handling of a high-profile budget leak and has cast a cloud over the minister's choice just week's after he named Gabriel Makhlouf to the Central Bank job.

In his first public remarks on the issue since the controversy blew up a fortnight ago, Mr Donohoe said Mr Makhlouf's appointment had already been legally approved.

"The new Governor of the Central Bank has been appointed under law," Mr Donohoe told the Irish Independent.

The only way such an appointment can be walked back is if a person is found guilty of "very, very grave misconduct", he said.

The Finance Minister has come under pressure from the Labour Party and Sinn Féin to suspend the appointment pending the results of a civil service investigation into Mr Makhlouf's handling of the New Zealand budget leak. He refused to do that yesterday.

"I'm very conscious that an inquiry is under way in relation to a political issue in another country, I don't want to comment on that inquiry," Mr Donohoe told RTÉ's 'News at One'.

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

Mr Makhlouf is due to finish in New Zealand on June 27 and take up his new role here in September. But New Zealand's main opposition National party has called for Mr Makhlouf to resign.

The State Services Commissioner, Peter Hughes, said last week that the investigation would establish the facts in relation to Mr Makhlouf's public statements about the causes of the leak.

David Parker, the minister responsible for New Zealand's spy agency, set out a timeline showing its agents had warned against depicting the budget leak as the result of a cyber attack before Mr Makhlouf issued his controversial statement blaming hackers.

Irish Independent

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