Monday 19 March 2018

The same 'old guard' still run the banks

High-profile purges were merely cosmetic

Nick Webb and  Louise McBride

AS the Government waits to see how much more taxpayers' money will need to be pumped into crippled banks after the stress-testing exercise, the Sunday Independent can reveal that the overwhelming majority of the senior bankers who were running key units as the banks doled out tens of billions of disastrous loans to developers are still in the same or similar level jobs.

While the bank bailouts led to the departures of Bank of Ireland's Brian Goggin, AIB's Eugene Sheehy and some board members, the top levels of bank management have been almost untouched despite being rescued by the State.

Apart from chief executive Richie Boucher, three of Bank of Ireland's most important and highly paid executive directors are still working at the bank, despite having been in charge of key positions before the bank sought State protection.

Chief finance officer John O'Donovan has been a board member since 2002.

Mr O'Donovan was paid €3.05m over the two years before the State banking guarantee of September 2008.

Des Crowley, who runs Bank of Ireland's retail unit, has been a board member since 2006, while capital markets chief Denis Donovan also joined the board that year. These four executives have shared €14m in pay since 2006.

Three non-executive directors are also still at the bank despite having been appointed well before the crash. Former civil servant Paul Haran has been a director since 2005, while ex-KPMG managing director Jerome Kennedy and solicitor Rose Hynes have been on the board since 2007.

But it is the revelation that the clear majority of key managers and executives -- below board level -- remain in their posts or similar roles that is the most shocking.

Bank of Ireland's property finance section has been headed by Paul McDonnell since 2006, with Matthew Galligan running the US book since 2007. The corporate banking business unit has been headed up by Tom Hayes since 2006 -- two years before the State guarantee.

Key managers in areas ranging from group finance, private banking and global markets are also unchanged. Bank of Ireland said there were "continuous and ongoing changes to personnel throughout the group -- as is appropriate for the business".

AIB, which has been effectively nationalised by the State, has also retained large chunks of the top management.

Board members David Pritchard, Stephen Kingon and Anne Maher were all appointed in 2007 -- three years before the bank was bailed out by the taxpayer.

Jerry McCrohan, who headed up its corporate banking unit from October 2006 onwards, moved to run the capital markets division last year. Ronan O'Neill, who ran the Irish corporate banking business, took over the top job in the unit.

The bank's real estate and property finance wing has also been somewhat unchanged. David Renwick has been in charge of property finance since 2007.

AIB appointed Nick Treble as its group chief risk officer in January 2008. Last year he moved to become the bank's head of UK operations. Mary Phibbs was appointed interim chief risk officer -- one of just two senior external appointments made by the bank. Bernard Byrne became chief finance officer last year.

Sources have indicated that the bank's RoI unit provided the bulk of the loans that were transferred to Nama, with smaller amounts coming from corporate banking and capital markets wings. Middle-management ranks have also experienced major changes, according to sources.

Full Story, Page 3

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