The recruitment process to pick the next Central Bank of Ireland governor cost €70,236, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has disclosed, as his choice, Gabriel Makhlouf, remains embroiled in a budget leaks controversy in New Zealand.
In a written Dáil reply to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty, Mr Donohoe said the amount covered fees to executive search group Merc Partners, expenses for candidates and interview panel members, paper adverts, and VAT. The cost of the process to select Philip Lane as governor in 2015 was €63,748.
Earlier this week, Labour Party finance spokeswoman Joan Burton called for the appointment of Mr Makhlouf to be paused because of controversy engulfing him in New Zealand, where he is the treasury department's top official.
An investigation is being held there into allegations that Mr Makhlouf misled authorities after claims that secret budget information was illegally released last month.
Mr Makhlouf first claimed the data had been “deliberately and systematically” hacked, calling in cyber experts and police. However, New Zealand police concluded no hack took place, and that treasury officials had mistakenly uploaded sensitive budget day material ahead of publication in a way that could be read by anyone.
New Zealand’s Cyber Security Centre said it gave the treasury this same advice. The inquiry is expected to be completed by June 27th.
Mr Donohoe told reporters on Tuesday that legislation governing the appointment of any Irish Central Bank governor allowed for making a change only in a case of “very, very grave misconduct”.
A spokesman for the Department of Finance on Wednesday said Mr Makhlouf's appointment was officially signed off on by President Michael D Higgins on May 14th. Mr Makhlouf was previously a senior British civil servant and is due to take up his post in the Republic in September.
Asked by Mr Doherty if he had any contacts with authorities in New Zealand since the controversy started, Mr Donohoe said officials in his department had been in contact with the Irish Embassy in New Zealand to obtain updates on the matter and "it was agreed that it would not be appropriate for me or my officials to contact the State Services Commissioner".