Banks ordered to reveal bonus links to loans

Banks have been ordered to reveal full records of any links between bonuses for top officials and the volume of property loans during the boom as part of the State’s investigation into the economic crash.

The Oireachtas banking inquiry, which began last week, has told all seven institutions which existed at the time they must provide the information by February 3 or face potential “criminal” action.

The request — focussed on the 2001-2008 period — is outlined in a list of records being sought by the cross-party political body, which has been tasked with unravelling how the crash occurred and who was responsible for what happened.

Details revealed at the weekend show the inquiry has asked AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, EBS, Permanent TSB and the liquidator for Irish Nationwide and the then Anglo Irish Bank to hand over the information early in the new year.

The banks and their representatives have until January 8 to issue any objections to the details being released.

However, after this point they will be obliged to outline any links between bonus structures for top executives and the significant upsurge in home and commercial property loans during the most prominent years of the Celtic Tiger.

Among other information the financial institutions have been told to provide in a letter to them from inquiry chair and Labour TD, Ciarán Lynch, are the top 10 highest earners in each bank during the boom.

A breakdown of shares and share options connected to the volume of property loans are also being sought, in addition to full information on property valuers who earned more than €25m from bank deals between 2001 and 2008.

The names of individuals who were on each banks’ risk management committee — bodies responsible for monitoring lending concerns and their potential impact on the wider economy — have also been requested.

The long-awaited inquiry began last Wednesday, six years after the bank guarantee and the economic crash.

While it is expected to last for a number of months, critics have warned it is too far reaching and could fail to explain who was responsible for what happened.

The inquiry began hearing evidence last week from senior Canadian civil servant and director general of that country’s department of finance, Rob Wright, who had previously written a report for Ireland’s Department of Finance in September 2010 and said he would have “pressed the red button” in 2005 or 2006.

Finnish financial expert Peter Nyberg, who also wrote a report for the Government on the issue, told the inquiry last Wednesday he believes little new will be learned.

While Taoiseach Enda Kenny has requested that European Central Bank president Mario Draghi appear before the committee, to date there has been little progress on the matter.

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