Saturday 16 December 2017

Noonan to probe perks as big banks get 136 new staff cars

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan is to review the cost of bank bosses' company cars as state-supported banks continue to fork out for '11'-reg vehicles.

Near-nationalised AIB has met the bill for 27 new company cars this year for managers and executives who have the perk included in their contracts. It bought 79 new '11'-registered cars -- with 52 going to staff working as sales reps or who run up significant mileage as part of their work.

The remaining 27 went to senior staffers who have the perk included in their contracts.

Bank of Ireland leased more than 57 new cars for their staff this year. Both banks refused to reveal the makes -- or how much they cost. Those entitled to company cars include Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher and AIB executive chairman David Hodgkinson.

The Department of Finance signalled that the issue would be examined in its review of pay and conditions for top management in both banks. It said the 'remuneration review' would not be limited to salaries, but would also extend to "other benefits provided to staff and assess their value".

In total, the two largest banks have supplied 136 new company cars to staff this year -- despite posting huge losses. AIB, which is 93pc state-owned, reported a record loss of €10.4bn for 2010, while Bank of Ireland, which is 36pc state- owned, reported a pre-tax loss of €950m.

Mr Noonan's spokesman said: "The minister would expect that any institution, but especially those in receipt of such extensive state aid, would be mindful of ensuring that value for money is obtained in all investment decisions and that operational costs are kept to the minimum commensurate with the needs of the business."

It is understood the banks give the staff a car allowance -- with the value varying according to their grade -- which allows them to choose their own car.

AIB said that 52 new cars were given to people whose job requires them to drive regularly. The remaining 27 were given to people "who qualify as part of other terms and conditions relating to their role".

No new cars had gone to senior executives. Both banks said they had replaced some cars this year as they had reached the age and mileage limits.

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor, who highlighted the issue, said: "I'd like them to come clean and say what models of cars they've bought and who exactly got them. I believe the taxpayer really expects the culture to change within the banks and I'm calling on them to do exactly that.''

AIB has 536 company cars; Bank of Ireland has 340. Bank of Ireland said it cost €4.3m to run its fleet last year. And it said it had made savings. "Any cars due for replacement are being replaced by diesel models as this is more cost effective and better for the environment," a spokeswoman said.

Staff have to pay benefit-in- kind tax on their company cars. Some AIB staff also have tocontribute towards the cost.

State-owned Anglo Irish Bank said it had two remaining members of staff with company cars -- one dating to 2003 and the other to 2006.

Irish Independent

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