Friday 15 December 2017

Dail watchdog: banks kept full extent of cash crisis hidden

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE Anglo Tapes showed bank executives kept the full extent of their troubles hidden from the State around the time of the bank guarantee, the powerful Dail public spending watchdog has claimed.

The Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is vying to hold the banking inquiry. The PAC has already produced a report setting out how it could carry out the investigation. And members have now come up with a "banking stabilisation" report which further presses the case for an inquiry.

PAC chairman John McGuinness says in the report's foreword it "cannot address the key issues that surround the banking crisis and to that end we do not have public accountability for this issue".

"The Irish public has seen in recent weeks the approach of one bank (Anglo) to the State during the time of the guarantee where clearly senior banking executives appear to know that they were in big trouble but kept this from the State even though the State was being asked to write cheques that ran into billions," Mr McGuinness added.

"Indeed many of the papers of the department relating to the bank guarantee were withheld from the committee. Only a banking inquiry can now address and determine these issues."

The report has only been circulated among members of the committee, some of whom are fearful it could prejudice its efforts to hold the banking inquiry.

The Government has committed to holding a parliamentary banking inquiry but it is understood the PAC is not top of the shortlist to carry it out. A newly constituted committee or the Oireachtas sub-committee on Finance are believed to be top of the list. And even PAC members have said Mr McGuinness is not suitable to chair the banking inquiry because of claims he made when questioned over recent revelations from his time as a junior minister.

Labour TD and PAC member Derek Nolan said Mr McGuinness "speculated civil servants were out to get him possibly because of how he chairs the committee" and also made a very "serious allegation" the Department of Enterprise, where he was a junior minister, was leaking against him.

Irish Independent

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