The inquiry into Irish Nationwide Building Society has run into a major roadblock. Surprisingly, given that the process was put in place by the Central Bank of Ireland, the issue relates to one of its own.
Con Horan was prudential director at the financial regulator and, prior to that, head of banking supervision. It was on his watch that the events under investigation at the building society run by Michael Fingleton – which eventually led to its collapse – took place.
It emerges that he has been baulking at appearing before the inquiry, citing variously his "negative" experience as a witness before a separate Oireachtas banking inquiry, and what he says is his current status as a UK resident employee of the European Banking Authority.
He is also on holiday – even though he would have been on clear notice that he was due before the inquiry.
The INBS inquiry was set up in July 2015 , following an investigation by the Central Bank into INBS stretching back to 2010. Mr Horan was a senior executive of the Central Bank for all that period, although he was seconded to the European Banking Authority (EBA) from 2011. He was due to return to the Irish regulator at the end of 2014 but his European secondment was extended.
He then resigned from the Central Bank in April 2017, and remains a staff member of the EBA.
As for his residence claim, bizarrely, both the occupants of his Dublin address, understood to be family, and neighbours, report that he is resident there even though Mr Horan, through his solicitor, is telling the inquiry that he is not.
Three months ago, his solicitor undertook to provide evidence to show Mr Horan doesn’t reside at the address. According to the inquiry’s legal team, that has not yet happened.
Quite what his new employers at the EBA make of it all would be interesting to know, given that its declared role is to “ensure effective and consistent prudential regulation and supervision across the European banking sector”. The sort of thing the inquiry is trying to get to the bottom of then.
The London-based authority is scheduled to relocate, post-Brexit, to Paris. Presumably, given his current stance on Irish subpoenas and regulatory inquiries, Mr Horan must be heartily relieved that Dublin lost out as the new post-Brexit home for the agency when lots were drawn from a hat last November after the European Council vote was tied.