McCreevy resigns from bank board


Former European commissioner Charlie McCreevy has resigned from the board of a new British banking firm after an EU ethics committee found a conflict of interest with his work as commissioner in charge of financial regulation.

Mr McCreevy stepped down from the board NBNK Investments last night on foot of a negative opinion from the committee, which was established by the Commission to assess his employment by the firm.

This is first time that a former member of the EU executive has had to resign a directorship since the current system for overseeing the work of retired commissioners was introduced in 2003.

NBNK Investments was set up during the summer by former Lloyds chairman Lord Levine to pursue acquisition opportunities in the British banking sector. As institutions seek to recover from the financial crash, some large players are selling assets to comply with EU competition rulings.

According to its website, the NBNK’s proposition is to build “a new and substantial UK bank”, primarily through acquisition.

As internal markets commissioner, Mr McCreevy was the originator of new legislation to set up a new pan-European system of financial regulation

NBNK took a £50 million (€57.86 million) stock market listing on the Alternative Investment Market in London with funding from investors including Aviva, FC Management, Invesco and Och-Ziff Capital Management.

Amid criticism of the former Minister for Finance's directorship earlier this week, the company said the former internal markets commissioner would have a “less substantial” board role until the first anniversary of his retirement from the Commission in February. It also said he would not receive director's fees in that period.

A spokesman for NBNK Investments acknowledged Mr McCreevy’s departure but said he was not in a position to ask the former commissioner whether he had any comment on the committee’s ruling.

In a statement, the company said Mr McCreevy resigned from the board with immediate effect in order to fully comply with his obligations as a former member of the Commission.

"When Mr Charles McCreevy was approached initially to join the board of NBNK Investments, he notified the European Commission authorities as required," the statement said.

"Following a dialogue with the European Commission it has not been possible to find a way in which Mr McCreevy can continue with his directorship of NBNK in a manner compatible with his standard responsibilities as a former European Commissioner."

The statement went on to say that the board respected and understood his position.

Mr McCreevy's appointment to the company prompted criticism in the European Parliament, where generous "transition" allowances he and many of his former commission colleagues receive have met with a frosty reception.

Labour MEP Nessa Childers welcomed the committee’s ruling. “The manner in which this decision was made is further proof of the power of the directly elected European Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty,” she said. “I am hopeful that this will send out a strong signal that the Commission has ended its laissez-faire attitude to the post-Commission employment of its former members."

The ethics committee, which reported in recent days, was the second to examine Mr McCreevy's work since he left the commission.

Last May, another committee cleared his membership of the Ryanair board but said he could not advise the airline on any case involving its business which came before the EU executive’s internal markets division when he was commissioner.

Mr McCreevy's remuneration from Ryanair would be deducted from his €11,150 per month “transition allowance”. He also receives an annual ministerial pension of €74,746 and a €52,213 pension for having served as a TD.