Gardaí to probe leaking of bank inquiry evidence

Gardaí are set to investigate the high-profile leaking of detailed bank inquiry evidence from former Department of Finance secretary general Kevin Cardiff in a move which could potentially see the person responsible fined €500,000 or jailed for a maximum of five years.

Gardaí to probe leaking of bank inquiry evidence

The cross-party Oireachtas group asked officers to find out what happened after agreeing to the decision at its weekly private meeting yesterday. The revelation came as the inquiry decided it will not ask Denis O’Brien to attend as a witness. The decision, which was objected to by Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Micheal McGrath, was based on legal advice linked to the commission of investigation into IBRC.

Over the weekend, 380 pages of evidence from Mr Cardiff — who was involved in discussions on the night of the September 29 bank guarantee — were leaked to the Sunday Business Post.

The information made a number of allegations, including the claim then taoiseach Brian Cowen effectively overruled then finance minister Brian Lenihan on the need for a blanket bank guarantee and that the duo had a private row over including Anglo Irish.

The records also said former ECB president Jean Claude Trichet’s meeting this spring with the inquiry was based on “fallacies”, that his advice Ireland should accept the November 2010 bailout came with an “or else” add-on, and that “anti-democratic” forces were involved in forcing this country to accept the deal.

While the evidence will be made public tomorrow morning when Mr Cardiff attends the inquiry, the fact it was leaked before this meeting has led to grave warnings from individuals close to the inquiry that such actions could potentially bring down the entire investigation.

It had been expected that the issue would be left to one side as this is the first time in six months of bank inquiry meetings that it has happened. However, in a statement last night, an Oireachtas spokesperson confirmed the inquiry agreed during its weekly private meeting yesterday to forward the matter to gardaí and find out who leaked the information.

“The inquiry will refer the issue of unauthorised possession of certain documents to An Garda Siochána,” the spokesperson confirmed.

“The concern for the committee is that the documentation in its totality has a particular legal protection. The committee has also agreed to refer these issues including the possession of the confidential documentation by media outlets to An Garda Siochána,” he said.

Under section 41 of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013, anyone who leaked the records could be fined €500,000 and jailed for up to five years.

The development came as Cabinet has agreed to waive the legal privilege over advice given by the attorney general during the economic crash after a request from the inquiry.

Government said it will not insist of the legal protection when then attorney general Paul Gallagher and senior politicians attend next month. The request — which sources insisted is unrelated to Mr Cardiff’s evidence — relates to three matters, namely advice on the night of the September 2008 bank guarantee, advice on the November 2010 bailout and advice on the role and influence of the IMF and ECB in Ireland.

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