Lenihan willing to let inquiry cover bank's nationalisation

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan tonight said he was willing to extend the remit of the banking inquiry to cover the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr Lenihan said the probe into the meltdown – which was expected to take in the period up to the end of September 2008 – could be broadened to include the State’s takeover of the ailing lender last January.

But the minister insisted the Department of Finance’s political handling of the banking crisis did not need to be examined by the commission of investigation.

Responding to calls from opposition parties to protract the timeframe covered by the inquiry, Mr Lenihan said he had no difficulty with the January date.

“It’s clear that cut-off date should be later than September 30,” he added.

The minister told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance there was nothing in a preliminary report by former International Monetary Fund officials Klaus Regling and Max Watson to suggest his department’s political decisions should be investigated.

“It’s clear that they view the crisis management that has taken place as excellent,” he added.

“In their view the major culprit was the banks themselves, not the Government.”

Labour’s finance spokeswoman Joan Burton said a planned independent review into the Department of Finance’s systems, processes and structures was not sufficient.

“How can you as a Minister suggest that the Central Bank and the Regulator will be subject to the rigours of a full commission of inquiry – many people in there will just put up the Nuremberg defence that they were just doing their job,” she said.

“This is not adequate to the crisis that this country has fallen into.”

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