Belfast Telegraph

Bank bail-out 'could hit 30bn euro'

Taoiseach Brian Cowen insisted that he still does not know how much Anglo Irish Bank will cost the taxpayer - but suggested it could be around 30 billion euro.

On the eve of the latest official estimate on the losses of the nationalised rogue lender, Mr Cowen said the Financial Regulator still had not told him the full scale of the controversial bail-out.

But he dismissed a credit ratings agency prediction that the bill could hit 35 billion euro (£30.2bn) and instead referred to 30 billion euro (£25.9bn) "as an example" to illustrate the costs involved.

"If it were of the order of 30 billion euro... it would mean a payment of 1.5 billion euro (£1.3bn) every year in relation to the interest," he said.

"Obviously the 30 billion euro figure would be added to the national debt."

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said it was extraordinary and "not credible" that the Taoiseach did not know the final bill, which is expected to be announced by Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield on Thursday.

"Is that the message that's going out to the markets?" he said.

"That the head of the Government doesn't know the bottom line for Anglo, doesn't yet know a figure that will be announced tomorrow."

Mr Gilmore said the final figure was a critical piece of information that was only being revealed a day after the Dail votes on the extension of the 440 billion euro (£379bn) state bank guarantee. The Labour leader said the Taoiseach was asking the people of Ireland to write another blank cheque for the banks when they did not know the full cost of the first.

But Mr Cowen insisted the Government was backing the bank guarantee extension on the widely-respected advice of the Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan.

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