Payment of €9.5m to directors will fuel public anger, say FG
THE massive €9.5m paid to directors of Anglo Irish Bank last year will only add to public anger over events at the bank, Fine Gael said last night.
But Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said the publication of the bank's annual report would allow us to "draw a line" under past activities.
The main opposition parties also expressed concerns that a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report into the bank had been censored as its publication was pushed back throughout yesterday. Fine Gael and the Labour Party said the Anglol report raised many serious questions and gave few answers.
Fine Gael finance spokesman Richard Bruton said there would be more fury and frustration arising from the report's revelations including the €451m loans to 'long-standing customers' and the size of the €9.5m package for directors
"We see the directors who drove this bank into a wall walking off with €9.5m in fees and the taxpayer left to pick up bigger losses now than we expected," he said. And Mr Bruton claimed the lack of information on how the bank reached the point where it had to be nationalised would appal people.
"Crucially, we still don't know the real size of the black hole of bad debt in Anglo's accounts," he said.
Far from drawing a line, Labour Party finance spokeswoman Joan Burton said the details were still only emerging."In a way, this is part one or a work in progress on a story that we will know an awful lot more about when we hear the follow-on figures for the six months to March 31," she said.
Outstanding questions included: What were the director loans used for? Who were they paid to? Who are the golden circle?
"There are an awful lot of small and other shareholders in Anglo. They need to know did the directors get a far better deal?" she said.
Labour's deputy leader said the report was an extreme example of how regulation with a light touch just didn't work.
Minister Lenihan said he welcomed the increased scrutiny of Anglo as an opportunity to bring openness to the bank "which will ultimately allow us to draw a line under past activities". He added: "It is an opportunity for Anglo to employ a fully transparent approach to addressing the inappropriate activities that took place at the bank and provide comprehensive details to all stakeholders who deal with Anglo and who deal with Irish financial institutions generally."
The minister vowed the Government would get to the bottom of the goings-on at Anglo.
"One of the reasons we nationalised this bank was to ensure we got to the bottom of the wrongdoing, cleaned up this bank and restored Ireland's damaged reputation in international circles because of the misconduct that has taken place in this bank," he said.
The Green Party said the publication of the reports was "a first step" in the cleaning-up and reform of banking. Minister Eamon Ryan warned there would be "no hiding and no evasion" for anybody guilty of wrongdoing.
His party believed there was a need for a root-and-branch review of how our banking systems operate.
"We need to ensure that Irish banking systems have the confidence of the Irish public and are respected internationally. We insist that wrongdoing, in whatever form, must be punished," he said.