Wednesday 24 January 2018

Officials used complex code when discussing leading Irish banks

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

The Department of Finance and its most senior adviser on the banking crisis, Rothschild, used an elaborate system of codes to describe the main banks at the height of market turmoil earlier this year.

It was reported in October that Irish Nationwide was given the code word 'Harmony' by those dealing with the building society and its former boss Michael Fingleton.

But the Irish Independent understands that such was the sensitivity of communications about individual banks, that Rothschild and senior Department of Finance officials preferred to communicate using coded words for each bank.

The following codes were used (Alpha, Bravo, Red, Indigo and Ebony) to describe the guaranteed institutions, alth-ough why each word was chosen is not clear.

Unsurprisngly Anglo Irish seems to have been described as Red, with AIB given the label of Alpha.

Rothschild, one of the most influential and best-known investment banks in the world, even described its work for the government using code, calling the contract Project Emerald.

Since the banking crisis started in September 2008, the Department of Finance and the Financial Regulator have paid out €17m in fees.

The scale and unprecedented nature of the crisis has increased the need for external advise, the department's head Kevin Cardiff has explained on several occasions.

The department has expanded its internal banking advise too, hiring the former equity analyst Scott Rankin of Davy Stockbrokers.

The Rothschild executive dealing with the banking issues has been Daanish Bhimjee, based in the UK.

About €1.4m has been paid to Rothschild in 2010 for financial advice on dealing with the problems within the banking sector.

More than €8.5m has been paid to legal advisers Arthur Cox, accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers and estate agents Jones Lang LaSalle.

Irish Independent

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