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Probe ordered into bank deals

Published 03/06/2015

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan insisted there has been no evidence produced of wrongdoing against the bank
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan insisted there has been no evidence produced of wrongdoing against the bank

The Irish Government has ordered a investigation into deals struck by the former Anglo Irish Bank after it was taken into State ownership and may have led to losses of more than 10 million euro.

The once rogue lender, nationalised in 2009 and rebranded as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, has been dogged in recent months by allegations over the sale of assets and loans.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he pushed for a judge-led commission of investigation after repeated claims over the sale of the Siteserv company by IBRC.

Other claims which have raised questions over the work of the state bank were made by Independent TD Catherine Murphy who used parliamentary privilege to reveal allegations of changes to interest rates on loans.

It will investigate up to 40 transactions by IBRC involving potential losses of 10m euro or more and it is hoped to be complete by the end of the year.

The order for the inquiry is in effect a U-turn by the Government which had weeks ago asked for a judge to oversee a review of the Siteserv sale but refused to move on a full scale investigation on other transactions.

Mr Noonan insisted there has been no evidence produced of wrongdoing, only allegations.

The terms of reference for the inquiry, published tonight by the Department of Finance, include the examination of transactions, activities and management decisions from January 21 2009, when Anglo was nationalised, until February 7 2013, when liquidators where appointed to wind down the bank.

It will focus on the biggest deals and others which the inquiry finds would be of potential public concern.

It will also examine if interest rates or any extension to interest rates or loan repayment periods were given by IBRC that were unduly favourable to any borrower. As part of that the trawl will examine if changes to loan terms and conditions led to a difference of more than 4 million euro in interest due.

The issue of insider share trading was also included in the terms.

The investigation will examine if any unusual stock trades took place around any transaction which would give rise to an inference that inside information was improperly provided or used.

The investigation will look into the processes, procedures and controls operated by IBRC when granting debt write-offs to ascertain whether the appropriate internal governance procedures and controls were followed and if they were fit for purpose.

It is also being asked to determine if there is evidence of deficiencies in the performance of the board, directors, management and agents when agreeing deals.

The investigation is also being asked to determine if there is any evidence or witness testimony that finds transactions at IBRC were not commercially sound.

One of the issues in the Siteserv deal was that while the company was unable to repay its loans shareholders were paid 5m euro as part of the sale.

Anglo was bailed out by the Irish State to tune of 29 billion euro.

The IBRC is expected to return a small proportion of those funds, estimated to be about more than 1 billion euro, to the Exchequer after clearing its books.

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