Friday 24 May 2019

Kevin Cardiff appointed a director of KBC Bank Ireland

Kevin Cardiff is on EU board
Kevin Cardiff is on EU board
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The former head of the Department of Finance, Kevin Cardiff, has been appointed as a non-executive director of KBC Bank Ireland, according to a company filing.

Mr Cardiff took up the position on August 3, papers lodged with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) state. The paper work is dated August 31, and was received by the CRO on September 6.

Appointment to such a senior position at an Irish bank requires clearance from the Central Bank under so-called fitness and probity rules.

Kevin Cardiff was a relatively high profile figure during the financial crisis.

He was in key positions at the times of both the bank guarantee and the EU/IMF bailout, as secretary general of the Department of Finance - from 2010 - and before that as second secretary general at the Department and head of its banking unit from 2006.

His subsequent promotion to a senior EU job in 2011 sparked a public controversy after MEPs initially rejected the Irish nomination.

Ironically, having been the most senior official in the Department of Finance when the so-called Troika arrived in 2010, Mr Cardiff is now also chairperson of the Board of Auditors that oversees the Luxembourg-based European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the rescue fund that emerged out of the euro crisis.

He was appointed to the ESM job on nomination by the European Court of Auditors, the EU's independent external auditor.

He'd been named to the Court of Auditors back in 2011, but was initially rejected by a non-binding vote of the European Parliament Budget Control Committee after being questioned on his role in the banking crisis, the bank guarantee and a €3.6bn accounting error that had been uncovered in his Department.

Despite the committee vote, the European Parliament as a whole later approved Mr Cardiff's appointment.

During his stint in Europe, Mr Cardiff returned home to give evidence at both the Banking Inquiry and the so-called Anglo trial in 2014 in relation to his knowledge of the banking crash.

On the night of the bank guarantee - almost exactly 10 years ago - Mr Cardiff was head of the Department of Finance banking division and he was one of a number of key civil servants present when the major decision was taken to issue a blanket guarantee for all of the Irish banks.

In four hours of evidence to the Banking Inquiry in 2015, and in a subsequent book, Mr Cardiff gave evidence that he argued against the blanket guarantee option and pushed for an early nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank instead - with initial support from the late Brian Lenihan, as Finance Minister.

However, then Taoiseach Brian Cowen vetoed the idea, Mr Cardiff told the Inquiry.

Irish Independent

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