TWO LETTERS ABOUT possible recapitalisation of Bank of Ireland at the height of the banking crisis are still missing with neither the Department of Finance or Bank of Ireland itself able to find their copies.
The Department of Finance has said that despite “an extensive search” it has been unable to locate the documents. While BOI chief executive Richie Boucher admitted yesterday that his officials have been unable to find the bank’s own record of the documents either.
It emerged in January that the original versions of two letters, both concerning a possible investment in Bank of Ireland at the height of the crisis in January 2009, and which were copied to the former finance minister Brian Lenihan, had gone missing from the department.
Speaking at the Oireachtas Finance Committee, Boucher revealed that his officials couldn’t find the documentation either, saying: “We may have actually sent the originals to the Department and not have retained a copy of ours.
“We cannot find a copy of our own records. We have looked.”
The development was described as “highly suspicious” by the Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty who discovered last year that the two letters had been lost following a Freedom of Information request.
He pointed out that this was the only correspondence between Bank of Ireland and the Department of Finance at the height of the banking crisis.
Copies of both letters are only available in almost entirely redacted form, although one of them has been partially recovered by officials in the Department through the ministerial representation tracking system.
A search carried out by officials in the department after TheJournal.ie and RTÉ reported the story has not yielded any results, this website has been told.
A spokesperson for the Department of Finance also confirmed that the original correspondents in the letters were contacted but the letters have not been found.
The spokesperson said: “The department carried out an extensive search for the document which included searching other files in the event that the correspondence was misfiled. The original correspondents of the letter were also contacted. Despite this the letter has not been located.”
The two letters are between the Bank of Ireland governor Richard Burrows and tax consultant Noel M Corcoran.
Corcoran was involved in correspondence with Burrows about a possible takeover by the UK-based Jupiter Group at the end of January 2009, two weeks before the government pumped €3.5 billion into BOI.
Corcoran previously gave evidence to the Mahon Tribunal about advice he gave to former taoiseach Bertie Ahern about his tax liability on the infamous loans he received from businessmen in the early 90s.
Attempts to reach Corcoran for comment have been unsuccessful.
Bank of Ireland has previously declined to comment when asked if they would provide the letters to the department, with a spokesperson saying: “It is Bank policy not to comment publicly on specific interactions with Government or Government officials.”
However, Boucher was able to shed light on the matter at the committee yesterday, saying it had also lost its copies of the letters.
The Department of Finance did not respond to further queries about whether it now considered the matter closed or if it would be carrying out further searches and queries.