Bank board positions advertised in shake-up

A SHAKE-UP of the banks’ boards will see the Government choose new decision makers from a pool of potential directors over the coming weeks and months.

The move to overhaul the banks’ boards comes as the head of the eurozone’s bailout fund admitted nobody had told Ireland to curb its excessive lending during the boom.

An extensive overhaul of boards is expected in state-funded banks with the positions advertised today by the Department of Finance.

Directors of boards can expect to receive an average €50,000 a year, a department spokesman said. The directors will be chosen from a panel of applicants mainly to fill positions in the state’s two remaining major banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland.

A number may be called for positions on the smaller banks which are set to merge or whose future remains uncertain, including Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide and EBS Building Society.

The advertisement states: “The Minister for Finance is seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified people for inclusion among those to be appointed or nominated to the board of directors of these banks”.

To qualify for appointment, a person must not have any conflicts of interest and must have expertise in financial services. This is needed at a senior level in areas like finance and economics, law, accountancy and auditing, insolvency and restructuring, banking and investment and business management.

A department spokesman said the positions would be decided by a banking unit within the department as well as the Central Bank and Finance Minister Michael Noonan himself.

The department stated: “The advertising for expressions of interest should ensure a high calibre field from which directors may be chosen and makes the process more open and transparent.”

The closing date for applications is May 12.

The Government yesterday also announced the appointment of Robert Watt as secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Mr Watt, an economist and an assistant secretary in the department until now, is aged 41 and will begin his role immediately.

Meanwhile, the European Financial Stability Facility’s chief executive, Klaus Regling, yesterday visited Dublin and described new measures being used in Europe to assess risks in banks and economies.

The head of the fund, which is lending €17.7 billion to Ireland as part of our €85bn bailout, added: “Instruments were available. It would have been possible to tell the banks that they could not provide mortgages amounting to 110% of the purchasing price, but only 80%.

“It would have been possible to do that in Ireland, in the US and the UK. It did not happen, but there was also nobody to tell the Irish authorities to do it.”

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