FORMER Prime Time presenter Mark Little has defended his decision to be publicly linked with an online bank.
The long-time current affairs presenter raised eyebrows by writing a blog entry for the Dutch bank Rabo Direct, which critics are red-flagging as a "conflict of interest".
The former political reporter, who is currently on a year's break from RTE, spent much of last year probing the responsibility of leading banks in the ongoing financial crisis.
But, speaking to the Herald, Little insisted his recent blog for the online bank does not pose any conflict of interest.
"It's a blog for a website, not an ad," he said. "There is no conflict of interest. It is not an ad."
The high-profile Dublin presenter's image and comments appear on the front page of the bank's website.
Little (42) left Prime Time last December to concentrate on setting up his own digital media and global journalism business.
He is set to launch his new venture, Storyful.com sometime this summer.
According to Rabodirect.ie, Little was brought on board to share his knowledge of setting up a new business during the recession and inspire others to do the same.
It states: "Like anyone who has taken that first step going it alone, Mark questions his business decisions daily and is constantly striving to deliver effective strategies to make storyful.com a success. He's learned lots so far, insights that both new and existing business people could find useful and so we've brought him on board to share these learnings with you."
The site also includes a list of tips and inspiring statements from Little about why "there really has never been a better time to start a new business".
The popular presenter has been on the payroll in RTE for 18 years as a correspondent and presenter. He presented his final Prime Time programme last December shortly after announcing his departure to pursue a direct role in the transformation of news reports via social media platforms.
He said: "It's going great. It's very exciting and exhausting at the same time. We don't have an exact date for launch just yet but we're going to have something very soon."
Little is expected to return to RTE next year but has claimed he is unlikely to return to his former position.
A spokesperson for RTE declined to comment on Little's decision to be associated with the bank. "RTE does not comment on the matters of individual staff," she said.
The controversy comes seven years after RTE news anchor Brian Dobson was accused of a conflict of interest when it was discovered he had provided some training for senior local authority officials in answering questions in the media.
Dobson later admitted he misjudged the situation.