Friday 18 January 2019

Ombudsman O'Reilly says Draghi should give up place on G30 panel

ECB president Mario Draghi
ECB president Mario Draghi

Francesco Canepa

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi should give up his membership of the opaque G30 consultative body because it risks hurting public confidence in the bank's independence, European ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has warned.

The G30 is an international panel of senior figures from the finance industry, academia and current and former policymakers which holds meetings on global financial issues behind closed doors.

At present its members include Mr Draghi, Bank of England governor Mark Carney and People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan, but also former policymakers who have now joined the private sector and directors from two banks supervised by the ECB.


Ms O'Reilly said: "The ECB president's membership of the G30 could give rise to a public perception that the independence of the ECB could be compromised.

"For the ECB to allow this perception to arise over several years constitutes maladministration on its part."

Ms O'Reilly, whose recommendations are not binding, criticised what she described as the "secrecy" surrounding the G30, citing how members are chosen and what is discussed at the meetings.

She said the ECB should tighten its rules regarding public engagements.

The activist group Corporate Europe Observatory, which filed the complaint to the ombudsman, welcomed the decision as "timely and very positive".

An ECB spokesman said the central bank had taken note of the recommendations and would respond in due course.

The criticism comes as the ECB is already under fire over other issues related to transparency and the appearance of being too close to industry, including its massive purchases of company debt, its handling of failing banks and the hiring of Mr Draghi's top aide.

The G30 includes directors from banks regulated by the ECB, including Germany's Bayerische Landesbank, US giant JPMorgan whose Luxembourg subsidiary is ECB-supervised, and until recently, Spain's Santander.

Ms O'Reilly said she had found no evidence that G30 meetings had influenced the ECB's work as the supervisor of the euro zone's largest banks.

The ECB previously said it benefits from the exchanges of views at the G30.

Irish Independent

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