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Alan Dukes has A LOT to say about the 'odd ideas' at the Department of Finance

The former finance minister explained why IBRC and the department didn’t always get along.

Alan Dukes
Alan Dukes
Image: graphy: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

FORMER IBRC CHAIRMAN Alan Dukes has revealed more details about the fractious relationship between the bank and the Department of Finance.

During an extensive press briefing in Dublin this afternoon, Dukes didn’t hold back in his criticism of the department and, in particular, its former secretary general John Moran.

Dukes said there were “some odd ideas about governance going around in the Department of Finance”.

He said that at one stage Moran wanted to appoint two further directors to the bank and “seemed to believe that all he needed to do was tell the Central Bank that it was okay to appoint these two people and that they would be on the board”.

File Photo: In an interview with the Business Show on RTE yesterday, the recently departed secretary general of the Department of Finance, John Moran spoke about the poor condition the department was in when he took over the job. He mentioned that when th John Moran Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Dukes said Moran was “taken aback” and “seemed a bit annoyed with me when I again pointed out to him that the process was not that simple”.

He said IBRC had to meet the people and recommend them to the Central Bank before the minister could appoint them.

“[Moran] thought I was bring obstructive,” Dukes recalled, saying he was “just following the dictates of good governance”.

Dukes said Moran, in a private conversation, expressed a wish join the IBRC board shortly after he becoming secretary general.

The former chair said he told Moran he didn’t think this would be appropriate as he would be “seriously conflicted”.

When Moran made the point the Treasury in the UK had appointed a treasury civil servant to the board of Northern Rock, Dukes said he told him that was different as he was “not the person who was in charge of making banking policy for the Treasury”.

When asked if the deterioration in the relationship between the department and IBRC could be traced back to Moran’s appointment, Dukes said:

It definitely took a turn for the complicated at that point.

Dukes, who served as a minister for finance in the 1980s, said it was frustrating that the department kept raising issues that the bank considered closed, noting this “didn’t seem to be a particularly good way of going about these things”.

The former chair of the bank said that despite the fact a new board was in place some people “continued to regard the new Anglo [IBRC] as the enemy”.

mike a Mike Aynsley Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

He confirmed that he and former IBRC CEO Mike Aynsley are seeking all documentation referring to them from the Department of Finance.

When asked if he thought the recent release of heavily-redacted Freedom of Information files equated to him being “thrown under a bus”, Dukes noted:

I try not to be paranoid, but of course that doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you.

He said he wasn’t currently considering legal action.

Of the relationship between Aynsley and businessman Denis O’Brien Dukes said he “didn’t think anything in that relationship had an influence on transactions with IBRC” beyond making sure O’Brien stayed a “fully performing client of the bank”.

denis Denis O'Brien Source: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

In terms of the Siteserv sale, Dukes said he was “extremely angry” at suggestions of malpractice or criminality.

The sale of Siteserv and other transactions made by IBRC (formerly Anglo Irish Bank) has made political waves over the past few days as documents released through the Freedom of Information Act revealed tensions between the bank and officials at the department.

Siteserv was sold to the Denis O’Brien-owned Millington by IBRC in 2012 for €45 million. Anglo had given Siteserv a loan of €150 million, meaning the bank wrote off €105 million and the State got back less than €50 million. At the same time, shareholders were paid €5 million.

Noonan could have fired him

Dukes said he spoke to Michael Noonan briefly on 21 April: “I phoned him simply to tell him that I was extremely concerned at what was coming out.”

On his relationship with the finance minister, Dukes said: “As far as I know, there is no personal animus between us.”

90377681 Dukes and Noonan in 2002

He noted that the end of a “fairly tough meeting” in July 2012, he told Noonan to expect a letter from the IBRC board asking to reappoint him as chair.

Dukes noted Noonan could have fired him but instead said:

I’ve known with you for a long time and worked with you for along time and we’re not going to stop now.

Dukes also addressed the issue of Noonan being recorded in the minutes of a meeting with IBRC of not being confident about accounting for the bank’s actions in answers to the Dáil.

When he heard this, Dukes said he asked his former Fine Gael colleague if there was ever a case where he was nervous or embarrassed about going into the Dáil with IBRC’s information. Noonan said he hadn’t.

Yesterday evening Noonan announced that the liquidators of IBRC would review transactions carried out by the bank that resulted in a capital loss of at least €10 million.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the government has “nothing to hide” in relation to the Siteserv sale. However, opposition leaders Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams said the review doesn’t go far enough.

The Department of Finance hadn’t replied to a request for comment at the time of publication. John Moran has also been contacted for comment. 

Explainer: What exactly is Siteserv – and why is everyone talking about it?

Read: Denis O’Brien says he was merely the buyer in the Siteserv sale

Read: Here are the HEAVILY redacted documents that raise questions about IBRC’s sale of Siteserv

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Órla Ryan

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