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Ex-IBRC chief says Fianna Fail's McGrath wrong on rates


Fianna Fail's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath was the subject of criticism from former IBRC CEO Mike Aynsley

Fianna Fail's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath was the subject of criticism from former IBRC CEO Mike Aynsley

Gareth Chaney Collins

Fianna Fail's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath was the subject of criticism from former IBRC CEO Mike Aynsley

Former IBRC CEO Mike Aynsley has launched a scathing attack on Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath, describing his interpretation of the low interest rates given to the bank's clients as "monumentally misleading" and "essentially meaningless".

Mr Aynsley was responding to the Cork TD's suggestion that IBRC's interest rates had been "mouth-watering" compared to those typically available to mortgage holders and SME businesses.

Figures released to Mr McGrath by the Department of Finance last Friday show that a large proportion of the IBRC's commercial loan book had been subject to interest rates of less than 2pc at the time of its liquidation in February 2013.

In the case of 166 loans, an interest rate of less than 1pc was applied. A further 920 loans worth €8.6bn carried an interest rate of between 1pc and 1.99pc, according to the information compiled by the IBRC's special liquidator.

While the Fianna Fail TD said he would now refer the figures to the Commission of Investigation into the IBRC, he expressed his concern as to whether the interest rates had been agreed by the "old Anglo Irish Bank" or the new management team headed up by Mike Aynsley.

Responding to those comments, Mr Aynsley said: "The information provided by Deputy McGrath summarises interest rates charged in 'bands', but does not provide any detail or context regarding individual loans with which to make an informed assessment - without such, the interest rate information is essentially meaningless.

"As I have previously said, the individual interest rates charged to clients were established on a case-by-case basis and in consideration of any number of variables."

The former IBRC chief said it was important to note that the asset quality of the bank's outstanding loans reflected the distressed residual value of commercial loans given by the former Anglo Irish Bank in the lead up to, and even in the midst of the global financial crisis.

Detailing the full extent of this, he said: "In mid 2012 gross Commercial exposures stood at approximately €18.5bn with provisions for impairment of this segment being about €6.4bn, or 35pc. Further, total impaired Commercial loans were running at nearly €12.1bn or 65pc of gross exposures. The business banking gross loan book of about €2.85 bn was even more distressed, with provisions for impairment running at nearly €1.8bn, or 63pc, and total impaired business banking loans at just over €2bn or a massive 71pc of gross exposures.

"At the time, of the total €27.1bn gross loans and advances IBRC had made to all categories, only €6.7 bn was performing - neither past due or impaired."

Mr Aynsley said the "proper place" to examine IBRC's interest rates was the newly-established Commission of Investigation.

"Speculation in the meantime is simply not productive and can be monumentally misleading," he said.

Asked if the IBRC had ever rolled up the interest on its clients' loans, as the former Anglo Irish Bank had done, Mr Aynsley said: "I arrived in Ireland in September 2009 and shortly after that the bank's new Chief Officer, Peter Rossiter, was appointed. Following an initial review of lending activity at that time it was decided to stop the provision of interest roll-up facilities prior to the end of 2009 - primarily because of the various distortions the practice can produce"

Sunday Independent