Friday 23 August 2019

New Central Bank chief forced to call police after leak of New Zealand budget

Security breach: Incoming head of the Central Bank Gabriel Makhlouf said systems had been deliberately hacked. Picture: Bloomberg
Security breach: Incoming head of the Central Bank Gabriel Makhlouf said systems had been deliberately hacked. Picture: Bloomberg
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The incoming head of the Central Bank of Ireland has been forced to call in the police after the New Zealand budget he was overseeing preparation of was leaked.

New Zealand's Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf was last month selected by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to succeed Philip Lane as Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland.

He'll take up his post here in September, but in the meantime has been overseeing preparations for New Zealand's first Well Being Budget, due to be unveiled tomorrow, as the top civil servant in the equivalent to the Department of Finance.

But opposition members of the New Zealand parliament released what they called key details from the budget in advance.

New Zealand's treasury department was deliberately hacked, Mr Makhlouf said.

"The treasury has gathered sufficient evidence to indicate that its systems have been deliberately and systematically hacked," Mr Makhlouf said in a statement.

Security has now been tightened, he said.

"The treasury has referred the matter to the police on the advice of the National Cyber Security Centre," the statement from Mr Makhlouf added.

The leak sparked a furore around the much-anticipated Well Being Budget that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised would overhaul the approach to the nation's accounts to focus on metrics beyond economic growth.

Opposition National Party leader Simon Bridges defended releasing the budget details after the treasury said it had been hacked.

"The National Party has acted entirely appropriately," Mr Bridges said in a post on his official Twitter account.

He added Finance Minister Grant Robertson "has falsely smeared us to cover up his and the treasury's incompetence".

Minister Robertson said some details released by Mr Bridges yesterday were incorrect and that he had asked the National Party not to release any more in the wake of the hack.

Mr Bridges earlier said that the government's budget would see defence spending go up sharply and there would be double spending in forestry with an extra $138m.

International aid will also rise, Mr Bridges said.

"This has nothing to do with the government's wellbeing priorities," he said. The government said that some details were incorrect, without specifying which ones, and that the wellbeing initiatives were still to be revealed tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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