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Editorial: Public needs confidence in confidential clean-up

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The former headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank

The former headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank

The former headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank

THE list of high-profile borrowers compiled by the former Anglo Irish Bank before it was liquidated last year is as necessary as it is a source of fascination. As well as developers, the IBRC (formerly Anglo) counted among its clients high-profile figures from Ireland's business, legal, sports and entertainment worlds.

Such was the sensitivity surrounding their public profiles, these borrowers were included in a review of so-called politically exposed persons (PEPs).

No doubt similar lists were compiled in all covered banks.

When the IBRC was liquidated, the borrowings of many PEPs were being serviced. Others were in default.

The identity of the PEPs was and remains confidential.

But the categories of and status of these borrowers is a matter of real and enduring public interest in circumstances where the bank, regrettably, is in public ownership.

It is the Irish public who are paying the price, in full, for the excesses of the banking and property sectors.

And 2014 will be a critical year for many borrowers and homeowners who succumb to our new personal insolvency and bankruptcy regime, acts which could prompt more losses at lenders. It is taxpayers who have a vested interest in the manner in which the clean-up operation is conducted.

In recent months, the IBRC and toxic loans agency NAMA -- now the largest property company in the world -- have come under sustained public pressure to be more transparent in their dealings.

Yesterday NAMA, one of a number of parties that reported alleged leaking of confidential material to the Garda fraud bureau -- revealed that it has, since its inception -- overseen the sale of €10.6bn worth of loans, property and other assets held as security for loans. Maximum political and public oversight is needed for such dealings.

It is vital that the Government, state entities and other institutions -- including banks -- are afforded sufficient confidentiality to negotiate commercially sensitive matters that are of systemic, sovereign importance.

But the public interest requires the highest degrees of confidence in the process.

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