'Golden Circle' cannot be named, claims Roche


A Minister of State has today contended that the Government cannot identify the ten individuals involved in the €451 million transaction to purchase shares in Anglo Irish Bank being unwound by businessman Sean Quinn.

Dick Roche, the Minister for European Affairs, said today that the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan told him that as sole shareholder of the nationalised bank, he has no right to receive information as to identity of the ten individuals.

Mr Roche also rejected allegations that the Government was trying to protect or shield any of the ten.

In a statement responding to weekend media reports that purported to name some of the ten investors, Mr Roche has that Mr Lenihan had confirmed to him that the requirement of confidentiality is laid down in the Central Bank Act 1942.

"It would completely undermine the confidence of customers generally in Anglo Irish Bank if the Minister as shareholder could obtain access to confidential customer information," said Mr Roche.

"It would also be difficult to maintain the confidence of customers in any Irish Bank if they believed confidential information could be disclosed by direction of the Minister whenever this was demanded by the media or politicians."

He said that Financial Regulator's office was in the procces of investigating these matters. Any disclosure, he warned, could "undermine the confidentiality imposed with regard to that investigation".

"All of the relevant legislation dealing with Banks respects the confidentiality of Banks. If this confidentiality is not respected then the State would be exposed to actions for damages and perhaps even more importantly confidence in the entire banking system could be undermined.

"The suggestion that anybody is being protected is absolutely false," he said.

"There is no question of shielding anybody because the information is not available to the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance or anybody in the Government and the Authorities carrying out the investigation are entirely independent," he said.