Dukes suggests Central Bank knew of Anglo tapes in 2008

Department of Finance spokesman says it was unaware of tape contents until last month

Alan Dukes has suggested  the Central Bank and the Department of Finance would have been aware of the existence, if not the details, of recordings of senior executives disclosing the true extent of the crisis facing the bank in the autumn of 2008.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Alan Dukes has suggested the Central Bank and the Department of Finance would have been aware of the existence, if not the details, of recordings of senior executives disclosing the true extent of the crisis facing the bank in the autumn of 2008. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

The former senior politician who took over the running of Anglo Irish Bank after it was nationalised has indicated both the Central Bank and the Department of Finance would have been aware of the existence, if not the details, of recordings of senior executives disclosing the true extent of the crisis facing the bank in the autumn of 2008.

Alan Dukes, a former leader of Fine Gael and a former minister for finance, was appointed a public interest director of the bank and became its chairman when it was nationalised and became the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) in January 2009.

Mr Dukes has responded to criticism from Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald that he “sang dumb” about the tapes, although he was a public interest director. This followed reports that the Central Bank and the Department of Finance were unaware of the content of the recordings, in which senior executives candidly disclosed that the bank’s problems were much graver than they had presented to the then financial regulator and Central Bank.

Mr Dukes, who was aware of some of the contents of the recordings, was asked during an interview with RTÉ why he had not told [other] people about the tapes, which had been handed over by the bank to the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigations and to the Director of Corporate Enforcement over three years ago.

He said an investigation was being carried out and the bank had to take a series of decisions in relation to the action it would take in order to co-operate.

He said IBRC was being closely invigilated by the Central Bank and the Department of Finance.

“All of the board papers of the bank were made available to the Central Bank and to the Department of Finance in advance of each board meeting, he said, adding the minutes of each board meeting were also passed on.

“They knew, or had the information at all times, as to what the bank was doing in order to facilitate the investigation,” he said.

When put to him that this seemed to be a contradiction of its public position on its state of awareness, a spokesman for the department told The Irish Times it was not aware of the content of the tapes until late last month and that the content was not raised with them.

Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan also said this week that recordings were “not tapes that were held for regulatory purposes, so the Central Bank did not have access to them so we didn’t know the content”.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan also said this week the Central Bank were unaware of the tapes of the contents until last week.

Government sources last night said what Mr Dukes was stating on RTÉ was no more than that the nationalised bank was asked to co-operate and it did fully participate with the investigation but had not passed on the contents.

But Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty responded to the interview to say his understanding of Mr Dukes’s comments was the information was being provided about the tapes to the Central Bank and to the department, but it had not been properly scrutinised and that both bodies were “asleep at the wheel and not reading the paperwork”.

“Now there are serious questions for the Central Bank and the Department of Finance about the possibility that they were not reading the documents that were provided to them,” he said.

Mr Dukes said he was surprised by Ms McDonald’s reference to him “singing dumb” as he was the most public of all public interest directors. He disclosed he had been given no detailed road map on his role as a public interest director but had drawn on his vast experience as a politician, technocrat and minister.