Friday 24 November 2017

Deputy governor becomes latest key figure to quit the Central Bank

Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Stefan Gerlach
Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Stefan Gerlach
New Fiscal Advisory Council member Seamus Coffey
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The deputy governor of the Central Bank is set to leave the bank at least nine months before his term of office expires.

Stefan Gerlach was appointed as deputy governor in 2011 for a five-year term, which was due to expire in September 2016.

Yesterday, Mr Gerlach announced that he will leave the bank by the end of this year. He plans to return to Switzerland to pursue other interests, the Central Bank said in a statement.

It is the latest in a raft of resignations of officials who joined the Central Bank during a massive overhaul that followed its central role in the financial bubble and subsequent crash.

In May, Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan announced that he would leave the bank in November, a year before his term finishes.

Stefan Gerlach took the decision to leave after indicating he did not wish to be considered for the vacancy created by Governor Honohan's departure, the Central Bank said.

A shortlist of three candidates for that role, including the most senior civil servant at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is currently being considered, the Irish Independent understands.

Former management consultant Robert Watt has been the secretary general at Brendan Howlin's department since 2011, when it was split out from the Department of Finance.

If Mr Watt does go on to take the top job at the Central Bank, the appointment of a serving civil servant to the role is likely to be seen as a return to the pre-crash practice of elevating senior Merrion Street insiders to the job.

The appointment process is being run by the Department of Finance and the appointment will ultimately be made by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan.

Back in 2009, the appointment of Patrick Honohan, an economist and banking expert based in Trinity College, Dublin, at the height of the financial crash was seen as a radical departure from previous practice.

The fact that Robert Watt is a candidate to run the Central Bank may be a sign Michael Noonan is looking to strengthen the bank's organisational structures, following the well documented exist of a significant number of senior staff.

Stefan Gerlach is leaving on a well beaten path out of Dame Street. Current FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon left her former job as head of banking supervision in 2013, following the exit of former deputy governor Matthew Elderfield, who also terminated his contract early and joined Lloyds Banking Group in London.

The bank has also lost Elderfield's deputy, Jonathan McMahon, head of enforcement Peter Oakes and credit union registrar James O'Brien.

Meanwhile, Michael Noonan yesterday appointed Michael G Tutty, a retired former civil servant, and University College Cork (UCC) economist Seamus Coffey as members of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.

Established in 2012 as a condition of the bailout and headed by economist John McHale, the Fiscal Council's main task is to assess whether the Government's budgets are prudent.

Irish Independent

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