Anglo default was ‘not inevitable’, report to say

Final report set to conclude that Central Bank had contingency plan to avoid default

Joe Higgins, left: refused to sign off on Oirecahtas banking inquiry report. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Joe Higgins, left: refused to sign off on Oirecahtas banking inquiry report. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The final report of the Oireachtas banking inquiry is expected to claim the Central Bank had a contingency plan to avoid a bank default in September 2008.

The Irish Times understands the draft report dismisses the suggestion that Anglo Irish Bank would have defaulted on the morning of September 30th if a guarantee was not agreed the night before.

The committee is expected to find that the Central Bank lobbied for a guarantee on the night of September 29th but had a plan in place if one was not agreed.

The report, which runs to 450 pages, is said also to dismiss the idea that the blanket bank guarantee was decided on the night of September 29th, 2008.

It is expected to outline how the option was being examined for months ahead of the decision being made by the Fianna Fáil-Green coalition.

The report, which has now been agreed by the members, is said to criticise successive governments for ignoring advice from the Department of Finance.

The inquiry heard that the department had been warning of risks to the economy for 10 years before the crash.

It is believed the report will detail how everybody accepted the soft landing theory from the early 2000s without any real evidence.

The report was agreed late on Sunday night and was sent to senior counsel yesterday.

Members will meet again on Thursday to consider the amendments proposed by the legal representatives.

Watered down

There is some concern that the report will be watered down before it is sent to interested parties. It is understood that 70 people named in the report will be sent parts of it on Friday.

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm, former taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen and former Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton will be given access to the report later this week.

Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath said the possibility of a legal challenge is a real risk that could prove “fatal” to the work of the inquiry. The report is expected to recommend a number of changes to the Oireachtas Inquiries Act, including amendments that would allow for the continuation of work if an election is called.

The current legislation states that the work of an inquiry would fall if not completed before an election is called.

Fianna Fáil Senator Marc MacSharry and Socialist TD Joe Higgins have both insisted no future inquiry should be carried out under the Act.

However, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has ruled out changes to the Act that governs Oireachtas inquiries. Mr Higgins confirmed he would be producing his own report after refusing to sign off on the one compiled by the members.

“Even if it is blindingly obvious that blame should be attached to institutions or individuals in relation to what happened in property or the crash, if anybody denies that in the slightest, you cannot make a finding of fact,” he said. “That is a major issue.”

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty will also not sign off on the report, *a decision that was labelled irresponsible by Renua leader Lucinda Creighton yesterday.

“It is designed to get attention in the media and it is irresponsible politics as far as I am concerned,” said Ms Creighton.

In response, Mr Doherty said that Renua was promoting a herd mentality.