The governor of the Central Bank did not make public the Anglo tapes because he believed it was better they be handed over to gardaí for investigation.
Patrick Honohan has admitted he could have used the recordings and other materials to carry out a more detailed investigation himself when tasked with probing the banking crisis in 2010.
But he said he could not have done so within the three-month time limit given to him and he would have been legally prevented from identifying the banks and individuals about whom he was reporting.
“We did get some tapes from Anglo on specific aspects of those matters [suspicions of criminality] and we did listen to them and we took transcripts and we noted problems and we passed all of that material to the guards,” he told RTÉ Radio.
“I could have chosen a different approach,” he said, but he insisted there was still a lot of valuable information in his 2010 report.
“In due course, maybe not so long, we’ll be able to say this stuff is not confidential anymore and maybe we’ll be able to attach the institutional names to those X, Y, Z [used to denote banks in the report].”
On the question of why he had concluded in 2010 that senior management at Anglo were not aware of the full scale of the bank’s difficulties two years earlier, he said the tapes had presented new evidence that might change his view.
“They seem to be saying that they would want to draw in the Central Bank and then trap the Central Bank into a situation where they appeared only to require a certain amount of funds but they knew they required a lot more, but that has to be examined to see whether that apparent impression on the tapes is in fact correct and whether it is problematic.”
He said the contents of the tapes was offensive but also reflective of a culture which no longer existed.
Mr Honohan, who took on his role in late 2009 subsequent to the bank guarantee and Anglo’s nationalisation, said there had been “excessive deference, excessive subservience” shown by the Central Bank to financial institutions before then.
“A lot of people have learned a lot over the last number of years. Anybody who has looked at the Central Bank will see not only a great increase in the number of staff but changed people in key positions and I’m satisfied we’ve got the right people in the right places.
“We have definitely moved into a new regime [but] it’s difficult to do financial regulation. It’s an arms race. You’re trying to put on controls that are solving yesterday’s problem but the regulated entities are trying to manoeuvre around those controls.”
He was speaking following the disclosure of more taped conversations in which then Anglo CEO David Drumm is heard calling the Central Bank and financial regulator “a fucking shower of clowns”.
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