Incoming Central Bank Governor accepts inquiry findings into New Zealand budget leaks

Incoming Central Bank Governor accepts inquiry findings into New Zealand budget leaks
Gabriel Makhlouf.

The incoming Central Bank Governor has said he accepts the findings of a critical inquiry into the leaking of the national budget while he was in his previous job in New Zealand.

Gabriel Makhlouf's comments come after concerns were recently expressed about his appointment as the new governor after he previously claimed the New Zealand leak was as a result of a hack.

In a letter to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, the new governor said he accepted the New Zealand inquiry into his remarks about the leaks and that he could have dealt with matters better.

The letter, sent to Mr Donohoe on July 15, said the probe by New Zealand's Deputy State Services Commission, John Ombler, had been conducted “thoroughly and fairly”.

"I have reflected on Mr Ombler's conclusions and agree with them in full," Mr Makhlouf wrote.

"In hindsight, I accept that I could have described the incident more clearly and with a different emphasis."

"I was pleased that my honesty, integrity and political neutrality are not in question."

The new governor said the release of material two days before the Budget was a “serious matter” and as secretary to the treasury at the time in May he was “ultimately responsible for maintaining the embargo”.

"My immediate focus was to ensure that further material was not released, that the Budget was delivered on schedule and that we learned the lessons from what had happened to avoid its repetition," he added.

The new governor recently faced demands from the opposition to agree that he accepted the findings of the probe.

It had concluded that his actions and statements as secretary to the treasury were reasonable except for his claims the material was “deliberately and systematically hacked” and that somebody had found a weak bolt and attacked it.

Mr Makhlouf had at first said the leaks in New Zealand had resulted from deliberate hacking. It later emerged that the treasury was not a victim of cyber-attack, but had accidentally published the budget information on its own website.

The new governor's letter to Mr Donohoe was published by the department of finance today.

However, it is understood the letter from Mr Makhlouf was sent before concerns were highlighted to Mr Donohoe from previous central bank governors Philip Lane and Patrick Honohan.

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