Trichet to ‘examine options’ on bank inquiry co-operation

Kenny tells committee Trichet may be quizzed by Irish MEPs

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has informed the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry  that former ECB president Jean Claude Trichet is willing to examine a number of options that could allow him to provide the committee with information it is seeking from the bank in relation to development around the time of  the State’s financial collapse.  Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has informed the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry that former ECB president Jean Claude Trichet is willing to examine a number of options that could allow him to provide the committee with information it is seeking from the bank in relation to development around the time of the State’s financial collapse. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

 

The Oireachtas banking inquiry may yet have an opportunity to hear the views of the European Central Bank on the State’s financial crisis.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has written to members of the joint Oireachtas committee to indicate that former ECB president Jean Claude Trichet is willing to examine a number of options that could allow him to provide the committee with the information it is seeking.

These options include being questioned by Irish MEPs at the European Parliament in Brussels about issues relevant to the inquiry or coming to Dublin to answer questions at the invitation of an appropriate third party institution.

“The exact modalities of this approach would obviously need to be explored further,” the Taoiseach wrote.

The letter from Mr Kenny states that Mr Trichet, who was ECB president at the time of the bank guarantee in late 2008 and bailout in 2010, has been advised that it is not legally possible for him to go before a national parliamentary commission.

The ECB wrote to the inquiry last month to indicate that it would not be appearing before the committee members as requested because it was accountable to the European Parliament rather than individual national parliaments.

Mr Kenny last month raised the declined invitation with Mr Trichet’s successor, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, at an EU summit in Brussels. His letter to the inquiry states that he also spoke to Mr Trichet about the matter.

During his appearance at the inquiry last week, Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan said the ECB was not resistant to sharing its views and that there was a possibility that the information and an understanding of the ECB position would be communicated in some way to the committee.

Banking inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch TD (Labour) said the development indicated “a positive progression from the ECB’s previous position”.

“We welcome this latest move and the positive signals from the ECB to engage and assist the Committee in our work,” he said. “The Committee must now take on board the content of this correspondence and examine the options presented to see how the ECB can further our work and how we proceed with the inquiry.”

Mr Lynch said coming before the committee was not about individuals or personalities but about the information the ECB could provide to assist the inquiry’s work.

“What we are seeking is a methodology with the ECB which gives the committee information to clarify the positions that the Institution took during Ireland’s banking crisis in order to provide the Irish public with the fullest picture,” he added.

“Many pieces of the jigsaw of the financial crisis remain to be put in place, for example, the two years and two month period between the time of the guarantee up to the entry into the bailout programme and what engagement or role the ECB had with the Irish State during this time.”

The banking inquiry, which has now held four public sessions, was established to examine what went on prior to the State’s financial collapse and to examine the response to the crisis.

The current “Context Phase” is examining matters such as bank lending and liquidity management, mortgage exposures, and the nature, cost and scope of the decision taken by the Fianna Fail-Green Party government in September 2008 to guarantee the liabilities of the banks. It is due to finish by March.

The “Nexus Phase” will look at banking systems and practices; regulatory and supervisory systems; and crisis management and policy responses. This phase has been described by members as “the meat” of the inquiry and is likely to see politicians, bankers and regulators questioned about their roles.

The committee is scheduled to present its final report in November 2015.