AIB urged to explain 99 per cent debt write-down for DJ Carey

Ministers and Opposition call on majority State-owned bank to be questioned on ‘jaw-dropping settlement’

There are growing calls for AIB to appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Finance to explain a 99 per cent write-down secured by former Kilkenny hurling star DJ Carey on a €9.5 million debt.

Government Ministers and Opposition politicians have called for the majority State-owned bank to come before TDs and Senators to be questioned on the matter.

The committee is expected to discuss the calls at a private meeting this week.

Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty, a member of the committee, has requested that AIB come before TDs and Senators “to explain their policy on debt write-downs following reports of a massive write-down of debt to one individual in 2017.”


Two other members of the committee, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín and Solidarity TD Mick Barry, have confirmed they will suggest that AIB be invited to the committee.

“This write-down is not one that would be on offer to the vast majority of people,” said Mr Tóibín. “The banking system, especially that owned by the State, should be fair.”

The State owns almost 56 per cent of AIB.

RTÉ Prime Time has reported that Mr Carey secured a settlement in 2017 with AIB through which a debt of over €9.5 million was written down to €60,000.

It came after the bank had secured a High Court judgment for the €9.5 million on May 9th, 2011, most of which arose from a €7.85 million loan to Mr Carey relating to properties in Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny and the K Club in Co Kildare.

The RTÉ programme also outlined how the agreement included a windfall clause which meant that if Mr Carey got money or assets which increased his net asset value by €50,000, the sums received would have to be paid to AIB.

AIB declined to comment, saying: “We can’t comment on individual customers.”

Over the weekend, both Ministers of State at the Department of Enterprise, Neale Richmond and Dara Calleary, said they wanted to see AIB explain the debt write-down at the Oireachtas Committee on Finance.

Mr Calleary told RTÉ's The Week in Politics that AIB “need to outline the details of this, the full context of the agreement. It’s a very jaw-dropping settlement and certainly yesterday I was contacted by many people who haven’t had access to this kind of settlement.

“We need to see that information and I think the Oireachtas finance committee is the appropriate forum for AIB to come in and outline how that was reached.”

Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane also said AIB should go before the committee.

“Even if you take out the individual... the question really is how the bank could allow such a write-down of millions of euro and at the same time hound ordinary people when it comes to money owed to the bank,” she said. “I think it’s a real kick in the teeth to an awful lot of borrowers out there that haven’t had that same treatment.”

One committee member, Green Party TD Steven Matthews, said he would be interested in seeing the methodology behind writing down a loan and the process gone through to arrive at a decision. However, he said he did not know whether a bank would attend a committee meeting to comment in detail on an individual case.

“Most people don’t have celebrity status… so it’s important to see if the system is equitable when writing down loans,” he said, adding that the committee “may have a role to investigate the process rather than the individual case”.

Labour Senator Marie Sherlock, another committee member, suggested the process of debt write-downs in general may merit investigation.

“There is a wider public interest here in how debt write-down works in AIB and indeed across all of the banks,” she said. “In order to understand the process I think it’s crucial to seek data from them [the banks] on the number of write-downs and the scale of write-down per volume of debt.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times