IBRC boss says all performing clients treated ‘exactly the same’

Mike Aynsley strongly rejects Dáil comments by TD Catherine Murphy

 Mike Aynsley former chief executive of IBRC. “I think it’s always good when things blow up like this to have a clearing of the air. I just find the whole thing very disappointing.”   Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Mike Aynsley former chief executive of IBRC. “I think it’s always good when things blow up like this to have a clearing of the air. I just find the whole thing very disappointing.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Former Irish Bank Resolution Corporation chief Mike Aynsley has insisted that all “performing clients” of the institution were treated the same, but different interest rates were applied in line with the category of loans and risk.

Interviewed last night by The Irish Times, Mr Aynsley declined to offer any comment on engagements between IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, and billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien. Still, he did say that Mr O’Brien was “of course” a performing client of the bank.

“All performing clients were treated in exactly the same manner. There was no preferential treatment,” he said.

“That’s not to say, of course, that they all got exactly the same deal, because in the work-out of loans there’s a direct relationship with the quality of the credit and the quality of the underlying security.”

Mr Aynsley went on to say that “different pricing” applied because different loan categories have different risk profiles.

“From the standpoint of ‘was everyone treated the same?’ Absolutely. This was one of the fundamental tenets in the way we operated. It had to be.”

Issue with comments

He said last night that blatant untruths had been uttered in relation to the affair.

“To infer that there was a capacity of any of the management team to make decisions and commitments without reference to the board or up through the credit committee process is frankly ridiculous,” he said.

“There seem to be stories floating around that myself and others were in the position where we could make those commitments, but that frankly is not the case.”

In his Thursday statement, Mr Aynsley said it was often necessary for larger clients of the bank to schedule loan repayments over a long period.

“In these cases,” the statement said, “a ‘direction’ or ‘strategy’ was agreed/approved by the bank’s credit committee, which firstly approved, for example, a phase 1 pay-down schedule for a significant portion of the loans, and secondly, agreed with the client that when the phase 1 target was achieved, then the bank would enter into negotiations for scheduled repayment of the remainder.

“This second phase was an agreed or approved ‘direction or strategy’ and was not an approved commitment, however, providing the client complied with the phase 1 targets and no deterioration in the client’s affairs had taken place over the period, then it would have been expected that the phase 2 negotiation would have taken place automatically and proceeded back to the credit committee for a commitment approval, followed by board as well if threshold levels required its approval.”

While rejecting Ms Murphy’s Dáil assertions, Mr Aynsley has called for a formal review of the matters raised as he had nothing whatever to hide.

“I think it’s always good when things blow up like this to have a clearing of the air. I just find the whole thing very disappointing. It’s an issue that seems to have been raised. I just hope it moves from a situation with people quoting supposedly reliable sources to a situation where a full and proper review is conducted and the facts are put on the table,” he said.

Examine questions

“Within the scope of the review, they could review anything they wanted,” he said of the Wallace review.

In his Thursday statement, he said solicitors would take “all necessary action” in relation to comments Ms Murphy had made on Twitter, where her Dáil privilege did not apply. Still, he declined to comment last night on any action against Ms Murphy.

Did he anticipate that she would intervene in the Dáil? “No,” he said. He gave the same reply when asked whether Ms Murphy made contact with him prior to her intervention.

“As a named party not to be contacted to check on the accuracy or to seek a review is somewhat surprising,” he said

Mr Aynsley said the bank’s treatment of distressed clients was different, and depended on their behaviour.

“We had some distressed clients who took an incredibly constructive approach when dealing with the bank and working with the bank to assist in the recovery of as much as possible.

“But frankly there were other customers who you would say worked destructively with the bank, who went out of their way to make the recovery process difficult for the bank. It depended largely on the categories of client we were dealing with.”