Business Irish

Saturday 17 March 2018

Central Bank's business travel spend soars 20pc to €2.5m

Patrick Honohan, Governor of the Central Bank
Patrick Honohan, Governor of the Central Bank
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

The Central Bank – whose former Financial Regulator, Patrick Neary, was lambasted by a judge last week over a loans-for-shares scam at Anglo Irish Bank – splashed out €2.5m on business travel in 2013, including on trips to Kansas, Iceland and Switzerland.

The €2.5m bill, which was about 20 per cent more than the bank spent on business travel in 2012, included a trip by its governor, Patrick Honohan, to an economic conference in Jackson Hole in Kansas – an American valley famous for its elk and grizzly bears.

Mr Honohan, who last week described the regulator's role in the illegal Anglo share-buying scheme as a "sorry story", also visited Iceland's chilly capital, Reykjavik, last November where he addressed a conference organised by the Central Bank of Iceland.

Other business travel which Mr Honohan got under his belt last year included a flight to Washington to attend a meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, and business trips to Poland, London and the Swiss city of Zurich.

Mr Honohan also visited Israel last year – however, the cost of his flights and accommodation in this instance were covered by the Bank of Israel.

Although Matthew Elderfield travelled to sunny Bermuda in 2012 to address an insurance summit there, the former Financial Regulator didn't get to enjoy much long-haul business travel in his last year with the Central Bank. Switzerland was the furthest afield that Mr Elderfield, who stepped down from the Central Bank in late 2013, travelled on business with the bank last year. Mr Elderfield has since been succeeded by Frenchman Cyril Roux who made nine trips on behalf of the bank in 2013.

"The work of the Central Bank necessitates attendance at various international meetings," said a spokeswoman for the Central Bank. "Business travel costs have increased by €400,000 since 2012 and this is predominately related to the additional travel associated with the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2013."

Commenting last week on the role played by Mr Neary and his former second-in-command, Con Horan, in Anglo's loan-for-shares scheme, the Anglo trial judge, Martin Nolan, said: "I find it incredible red lights didn't go off some place in the regulator's office and the appropriate legal advice was not sought."

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