Department objects to release of Cabinet documents to banking inquiry

Finance reluctant to furnish confidential papers to investigating committee

The Governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan has told the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry that he believes Anglo Irish Bank should have been allowed to fail.

 

The Department of Finance has objected to providing confidential Cabinet documents to the banking inquiry as part of a number of submissions on how the committee of TDs and Senators is conducting its investigations.

Sources said Derek Moran, secretary general of the department, wrote to the committee twice in the past month. One letter was dated December 23rd and enclosed a three-page document requesting numerous clarifications on information sought by the inquiry.

Another was written to chairman Ciaran Lynch on January 8th, with eight pages of observations enclosed.

On the issue of cabinet confidentiality, Mr Moran said he is consulting with the Office of the Attorney General, but added that he “intends to provide as much documentation as I am lawfully permitted to.

“I will approach this issue in that spirit and with the intention of minimising any required redactions.”

Time for documents

The committee had asked that all records be provided by January 28th, but the department feels this timescale is too tight.

Other issues are legal privilege attached to certain documents, and the scope, scale and timeframe of requests.

In one letter, Mr Moran says the inquiry is “obliged . . . not to direct a person to give a document to it relating to discussions at a meeting of the Government or a committee appointed by the Government whose membership consists of members of the Government”.

He asked that the inquiry should instead request redacted documents.

Honohan appears

Central BankPatrick Honohan

The inquiry is also writing to audit firms KPMG, Ernst & Young, PwC and Deloitte to seek documents and other material to assist its work.

Mr Lynch said the inquiry will engage “with institutions and individuals who had roles during the crisis” in its next phase.

“This phase will focus on three broad elements – banking systems and practices; regulatory and supervisory systems and practices; and crisis management systems and policy responses and how they interacted,” Mr Lynch said.

“This is the second phase of documents to be sought by the joint committee, and further phases will follow as part of the preparatory work.”