Emergency legislation to liquidate the former Anglo Irish Bank has been rushed through the Dáil overnight, ahead of an expected announcement on bank debt deal for Ireland today.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan admitted he nearly had to move several times in recent months to liquidate the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.
Mr Noonan said he was forced into liquidating the zombie bank in a dramatic late night Dáil sitting because he was not able to deny media reports that this was what he intended to do. It is understood information was leaked to Bloomberg.
He said that while there was no specific threat to €14bn worth of assets, he needed to act before the courts opened later this morning.
Mr Noonan expressed his regret for the “shock” caused to the 800 staff in IBRC whose contracts will be terminated, but he said they would be rehired to assist with the liquidation.
Most workers are expected to transfer to NAMA, which will take on all of IBRC’s assets and debts.
The deal follows long-running talks with European chiefs aims to ease the burden of the €28bn bailout of the toxic lender.
A deal on the promissory notes is now expected to be announced today, with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny having referred to it in his Dáil speech.
The Seanad has passed the legislation, which had been approved by the Dáil earlier this morning, and has been signed into law by President Michael D Higgins. The President interrupted a state visit to Italy last night to fly home in case his signature was needed.
Minister Noonan told the Seanad the legislation had been drafted for months.
"We have had agreement with KPMG to nominate a particular person as liquidator, and they had all their arrangements in place as well, because we got several scares before about information coming out," he said.
He said he "nearly had to move on a number of occasions because we thought there was a substantial leak about the fact that we were moving towards liquidation and we wouldn’t be in a position to deny it".
Anglo’s former chief executive, Sean FitzPatrick, and two former directors, Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer, are awaiting trial on fraud charges linked to the collapse of the bank.