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Ex-Anglo Irish bank chief video link evidence bid slammed

Published 24/07/2015

The Anglo Irish collapse is estimated to have cost taxpayers 29 billion euro
The Anglo Irish collapse is estimated to have cost taxpayers 29 billion euro

A key opposition figure on the Oireachtas banking inquiry has warned against allowing former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm to give evidence from the US via video link.

The controversial banker is wanted by the Garda fraud squad and has ruled out returning to Dublin of his own free will, offering instead to field questions from the parliamentary investigation remotely.

Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath said the idea goes against everything he stands for.

"Allowing Mr Drumm to give evidence to the Banking Inquiry on his terms from the US - while at the same time he refuses to cooperate with the Irish criminal justice system - should not be acceptable to a committee of our national parliament," he said.

"As an elected representative, I am duty bound to stand behind and support the institutions of the State including all aspects our criminal justice system."

Mr Drumm fled Ireland in the months after his resignation from Anglo and the bank's collapse which cost taxpayers about 29 billion euro.

He is facing an extradition application from Irish authorities in the US courts but has repeatedly refused to answer questions publicly on his handling of the bank's affairs.

The banking inquiry is expected to meet next Tuesday to decide whether to accept the video link offer.

It is awaiting legal advice on whether Mr Drumm's suggestion amounts to refusing to comply with a direction from a parliamentary committee.

The unusual offer is being likened in some quarters to evidence given by former European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet who could not be compelled to attend parliament as he was only answerable to the European institutions and instead he took questions after making a speech at the Institute for International and European Affairs in Dublin.

Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty said there was also a concern Mr Drumm's appearance could be blocked by the Director of Public Prosecutions as trials are pending involving some of his former colleagues at Anglo.

He said the committee should be "mindful" of all considerations.

But Mr McGrath issued a point blank refusal to facilitate Mr Drumm giving evidence from overseas.

"Facilitating Mr Drumm's ongoing refusal to cooperate with criminal investigations in Ireland by agreeing to a video link from the US goes against everything I stand for in public life and would, I believe, be a grave error by the banking inquiry," he said.

"In the first instance, Mr Drumm should return to Ireland to cooperate with and support the criminal investigations under way. I also believe he should attend the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry in person in Leinster House as directed."

Mr McGrath said he has legal advice that Mr Drumm's refusal to attend the inquiry in person is in breach of a direction by a parliamentary committee.

The Fianna Fail finance spokesman said he has asked inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch to ask the DPP for her views on the possible impact on forthcoming and possible future criminal trials if Mr Drumm gives evidence via video link.

"If this engagement with Mr Drumm were to proceed, I am deeply concerned that comments made remotely from the United States could prejudice forthcoming criminal trials in Ireland. I will not support or play any part in such an exercise," he added.

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