Tuesday 11 December 2018

Tracker scandal hikes Central Bank's €4m bill for professional services

Central Bank boss Philip Lane
Central Bank boss Philip Lane

Colm Kelpie

The Central Bank spent more than €4m in one year on professional services companies, in part to support its work on the tracker mortgage scandal.

Figures show that in the year to the end of September last, EY received the highest payment at €1.56m, followed by Grant Thornton at €1.4m.

A spokeswoman for the Central Bank said it engages a range of professional firms to provide "supplementary expertise on supervisory and internal matters and has established framework agreements to facilitate this under public procurement processes".

"External expertise can be required on a range of issues and can be more cost effective and/or time-efficient than hiring additional staff," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

"Over the term specified, the Central Bank has engaged professional firms to provide assistance on a range of supervisory issues across a variety of sectors, on the internal information security programme and the ongoing tracker mortgage examination.

"In relation to the tracker examination to supplement its resources, the Central Bank has appointed a panel of experts to provide professional expertise to support its assurance work at critical points in the examination."

The statement added that firms were appointed by way of call-off contracts via a public procurement process.

Call-off contracts were awarded to EY, Grant Thornton and Oliver Wyman. Oliver Wyman has so far not been listed as receiving payment. The Central Bank said this means the firm hadn't received any contracted work during the period covered.

The Central Bank said it will publish an aggregate figure for its third-party professional services costs at the conclusion of the tracker probe.

Over the same period, the Central Bank paid around €8m in legal fees to unnamed law firms. The Central Bank said "legal services providers" are not named individually as doing so may be prejudicial to any investigations or examinations that are taking place.

A spokeswoman for the bank said the spend on law firms would include work on enforcement actions taken against financial firms or institutions by the Central Bank throughout the course of the year, as well as work on the resolution of credit unions.

The payments were published by the Central Bank.

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