Business Irish

Sunday 25 February 2018

Somers has AIB term extended through to the end of next year

Former NTMA chief Michael Somers Photo: Damien Eagers
Former NTMA chief Michael Somers Photo: Damien Eagers
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Former National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) chief executive Michael Somers has had his term as a director of AIB extended to the end of 2017.

Goodbody Stockbrokers chairman Somers is a nominee of Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who ordered the NTMA's current boss, Conor O'Kelly, to extend the term two months ago in a letter released to the Sunday Independent under the Freedom of Information Act. The fee that Somers (73) will be paid for his services was redacted from the letter.

He had previously indicated to this newspaper that he would stay on beyond his previous term, expiring in December last, if asked.

Somers has made headlines for his outspoken commentary on the treatment the NTMA - which is responsible for borrowing on the Government's behalf and managing the national debt - received during the process of guaranteeing the banks in 2008.

He backed the evidence given by Nama chief executive and former NTMA director Brendan McDonagh to the Banking Inquiry, saying the NTMA was effectively sidelined in the decision-making process around the bank guarantee.

"We were in a room, the door was closed and we could see that something was going on in another room but we didn't know what it was," McDonagh told the inquiry.

Somers told the Sunday Independent that he "went through that carry-on of being shoved into a room as well for hour after hour as the guys decided what to do".

"I was in New York that night, but I mean that was the general practice. You were brought over, put into a room, and the politicians, possibly the Attorney General, all the guys from the Department of Finance, and the governor of the Central Bank, went into another room. We'd be left there for ages," Somers said.

"My only attitude to the banking sector was we had to raise money to run the country and I didn't want to put it into the banks. It was as simple as that.

"I got legal advice which said, well, the Minister for Finance is the boss, you've got to do what you're told, but get it in writing.

"So it was put in writing. I said, well, if it's put in writing, then I'll do it. Otherwise, I don't do it."

Somers is also deputy chairman and head of the board risk committee at AIB.

He's on the board of Kerry financial services company Fexco, and is a former chairman of the European Investment Bank's Audit Committee.

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