Tuesday 24 October 2017

Internal probe at Bank of Ireland

RONALD QUINLAN Special Correspondent

AN inquiry is under way within Bank of Ireland's private banking division, as the bank's internal auditors investigate what have been described as "possible irregularities".

AN inquiry is under way within Bank of Ireland's private banking division, as the bank's internal auditors investigate what have been described as "possible irregularities".

The Sunday Independent has learned that Bank of Ireland's auditors have been inside the division, which counts many of Ireland's most wealthy and powerful individuals among its clients, at various stages over the past six weeks, conducting what one source described as a "thorough examination" of its activities.

The bank's audit team is seeking to establish if any of its private banking clients' affairs have been handled in any way improperly.

The bank's management is understood to be treating the matter "very seriously". Commenting on this, one well-placed source said: "The investigation isn't complete yet. It's difficult to say when it will be complete. We are obliged to follow due process before we come to any conclusions."

Asked if Bank of Ireland had brought in any third parties to assist with the investigation or if it had made contact with gardai even on a preliminary basis, the source said: "No, the matter is being dealt with internally and all appropriate procedures are being followed.

"There are very specific rules in relation to how internal audits operate. Should it be determined necessary to notify the gardai, then of course that will be done. But the bank cannot pre-determine the outcome of this inquiry."

The source stressed that clients of the division that is under investigation would be notified immediately in the event that the bank uncovered any evidence to show that their affairs had been inappropriately managed.

Contacted for comment on the ongoing inquiry, a spokesman for the bank said: "We don't comment on internal matters."

Bank of Ireland Private Banking is, according to its website, "Ireland's largest and oldest private bank. The country's leading entrepreneurs, business leaders, professionals and families trust us to manage their wealth with discretion and integrity."

While Bank of Ireland has proved the most successful of the banks in breaking free from dependence on the taxpayer, the State remains a 15 per cent shareholder.

Irish Independent

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