Former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes has criticised remarks made by a top civil servant and said Department of Finance officials adopted an “attitude of suspicion” towards the bank that led to “unproductive tensions” between both sides.
Mr Dukes’ swipe at comments made by department officials about IBRC and the Siteserv controversy this week has reignited disagreement between the bank and the department.
He said comments made by department secretary general Derek Moran and second secretary Ann Nolan to the Public Accounts Committee were “seriously misleading”.
Ms Nolan told the hearing there “was a culture there, both at board and senior management level [in IBRC] that never really recognised the damage they’d done to the country and that felt that their independence should mean that they weren’t answerable, even though they had taken quite a lot of money from us”.
She said there was a case to be made that the dissatisfaction with IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, had been due to a “culture, arrogance or [a lack of] close scrutiny”.
Details of the strained relationship between the department and IBRC have emerged recently, including dissatisfaction with the €45m sale of Siteserv, with the loss of €105m to the State.
The Siteserv deal was made in spring 2012, when there was no need for IBRC to give details of transactions to the department. The Government has an ordered an inquiry into IBRC’s deals.
Mr Dukes yesterday responded to the comments and said Ms Nolan “showed a lack of understanding of the significance” of the nationalisation of Anglo in 2009.
He emphasised that the mandate of IBRC had been to limit the losses arising from the bank’s activities prior to the bank guarantee of 2008 and to recover the maximum amount from the wreckage.
Mr Dukes said: “The new board and management were not the people who had done damage to the country. Ms Nolan, on the other hand, held a senior position in the Department of Finance while the damage was being done under its oversight.”
The former chairman also reiterated the rules under which IBRC had operated, adding: “Legally and commercially, the company had to be operated at arm’s length from the Department and Minister for Finance.”
He added: “A number of senior officials in that department seemed unable or unwilling to understand the implications of this arrangement but adopted an attitude of suspicion and distrust towards the bank.
“That led to a number of unnecessary and unproductive tensions as both the Department and the bank dealt with a set of problems which were without precedent in Irish administrative and political history.”
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