Several IBRC clients had 'low interest' loans
Mike Aynsley says bank bound by old Anglo deals
Former IBRC CEO, Mike Aynsley, has confirmed that a number of the bank's clients benefited from "extraordinarily low interest rates" arising from historical deals agreed with Anglo Irish Bank prior to its collapse.
Mr Aynsley said, however, that the claim, made under Dail privilege by Independent TD Catherine Murphy, that businessman Denis O'Brien had been afforded an interest rate of 1.25pc on his IBRC loans was "grossly inaccurate".
While the former bank boss declined to comment on the actual interest rate that had been paid by Mr O'Brien, he insisted the Commission of Investigation, which is now in the process of being established by the Government, would show Ms Murphy's information to be inaccurate.
Ms Murphy, for her part, has consistently expressed confidence in her sources and in the veracity of the information they have provided to her.
While the Kildare TD could not be contacted for comment on Mr Aynsley's claim yesterday, earlier this week she said: "I would be quite truthful about what I do. I would have gone back and checked that information. I am confident of the information that I put onto the record of the Dáil, and I believe that needs to be enquired into."
Asked by the Sunday Independent to explain how IBRC clients had availed of hugely reduced interest rates, Mr Aynsley said in certain cases, the renegotiation of a higher rate would have limited the bank's ability to enforce on loans. While, in other cases, the IBRC would have been committed to supporting borrowers for a longer period than that set down in their existing loan agreements. Where loans had been "healthy and performing", interest rates had been increased when possible, the IBRC chief insisted.
Mr Aynsley rejected suggestions that his and the IBRC's relationship with Denis O'Brien had been in any way inappropriate. "I have been accused of relationships with key clients that were not businesslike or to the extent where our judgement was impaired or compromised. Any interaction I had with any client, performing or not, was with the objective of obtaining as full recovery as possible with as little difficulty as possible," he said. Asked if he had any regrets about the approach the IBRC had taken to managing relations with Mr O'Brien, he added: "No. The objective was to get 100pc repayment of [loan] facilities and this was achieved."
He welcomed the Government's decision to establish a Commission of Investigation into certain transactions conducted by the IBRC. "I think all relevant questions need to be answered if the questioning around the IBRC is to be put to bed," he said.
Following Opposition pressure, the Government will set aside two days in the Dail this week to debate the terms of the inquiry, which will be led by a judge or former judge.
As it stands, the commission's draft terms of reference propose the investigation of the IBRC's sale in 2012 of Siteserv to Millington, a company owned by Denis O'Brien, and the matter of the interest rates offered by the bank to its borrowers and whether these were preferential. It is expected that Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and members of the Dail's technical grouping - which is headed up by Catherine Murphy - will seek to have the commission's terms of reference broadened to include issues of corporate governance and an examination of the relationship between the IBRC and the Department of Finance.
Asked if he was concerned that the Dail debate would see Ms Murphy introduce fresh claims using parliamentary privilege, Mike Aynsley said: "Yes, I am concerned. Not due to the fact that Deputy Murphy is raising matters where she believes there is a legitimate public interest, but because the information she had been tabling is untrue, inaccurate and misleading.
"I think I have always been first to state that I am happy with any level of scrutiny, providing such is conducted in a full and fair manner."