Finance Minister criticised for not including department in scope of investigating commission

THE Minister for Finance has come under attack for not including his own department’s effectiveness in tackling the financial crisis as part of the scope of the proposed Commission of Investigation into the banking meltdown.

While the work of the Department of Finance over the course of the last 10 years is to be the subject of an upcoming external review – probably to commence next year – “only” the banks, their accountants and the Central Bank/Financial Regulator will be included in the Commission of Investigation.

This, according to Labour’s finance spokesperson Joan Burton, “is a clear attempt to shield this Government from any investigation into its own accountability for blindly steering our economy and people into catastrophe, for the second time in a generation”.

“The most basic need for any inquiry – statutory or non-statutory – is that the outcome must be credible. This means that both the persons chosen to conduct the investigation and the terms of reference given to them must stand up to independent scrutiny and give rise to public acceptance that the report will be sound and reliable,” she added.

However, Mr Lenihan refuted the claims, saying that the review into the Department of Finance was actually initiated within the Department itself and not from any independent source.

“The Department is not seeking to immunise itself from any independent review and is certainly not being dragged into any investigation,” he said while addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance and Public Service yesterday.

Mr Lenihan told the same Dáil Committee that he would be open to broadening the timescale of investigation for the Commission from matters leading up to the introduction of the Government’s bank guarantee scheme in September 2008 to January 2009, which would allow the independent review body the scope to investigate fully matters at Anglo Irish Bank leading up to that institution’s eventual nationalisation at the start of last year.

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