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Noonan to ask banks to hold on to taped recordings for inquiry

Gerry Adams said he was surprised that Noonan is only writing to banks tomorrow, given that it is five years since the banking crisis.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL Noonan is to write to banks to ask them to hold on to recordings of telephone conversations, as they may be used in an Oireachtas banking inquiry.

Today in the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that there are tapes available in other banks and the Minister for Finance will write to those banks tomorrow and ask that these tapes be preserved in the interests of being available to a banking inquiry.

He said that the tapes that were referred to in respect of Anglo Irish Bank, now known as the Anglo tapes, had been seized under a warrant.

Kenny said that banks have a legal responsibility to hold these tapes for a period, so Noonan is merely sending them a letter to remind them of that responsibility so they will be available for a public inquiry.

Contents of the tapes

Minister Noonan said he was not aware of the contents of tapes, and neither were officials in the Department of Finance, or officials previously working there.

He also said that the Central Bank was not aware of tapes and that he was advised that tapes have previously been provided to Gardaí and a number of other authorities involved in investigations related to Anglo Irish Bank.

The tapes were provided by way of discovery of IBRC, said Noonan, adding that the bank has provided originals of copies and large data sets under compulsion to the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Body (CARB), the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), the Garda bureau of fraud investigation, the financial regulator and Nyberg banking commission.

In 2009 the ODCE seized under a court search warrant approximately three million electronic documents and over 5,000 original hard copy documents. In 2009, the Financial Regulator compelled reduction of approximately 45k hard copy docs and 9m electronic docs.

Electronic material is still in the possession of the bank as the Financial Regulator’s investigation was deferred in 2009, pending DPP proceedings.

In 2010, the Garda bureau of fraud investigation received significant quantities of e-documents and hard copy documents and recordings requested in respect of 18 employees of the bank whose lines were recorded.

That same year, minutes of meetings were provided to CARB, ODCE, the Banking Commission and Financial Regulator. Copies of various items, including certain recordings, were provided to parties in such litigation.

Noonan said that special liquidators take the leaking of material very seriously, and have written to the gardaí and DPC in that respect, and written to all parties who have this material.

Special liquidators intend to appoint an independent party to see if the leak came from IBRC or KPMG. These investigations are ongoing.

More tapes

Deputy Shane Ross asked the minister if there were any more tapes.

Noonan replied that he assumes tapes exist in the other banks, as if you ring a bank looking for a statement there is usually some kind of warning that tells you the conversation could be recorded.

However, he said he was unaware of internal recordings.

Noonan said he thought it was the outside calls in that were recorded, and that it is the practice always to record calls in and out of the treasury. He also assumed that there are recordings in and out of the treasury in the other main banks as well.

According to Noonan, banks should be “on alert” from today on that this electronic data may be required by an Oireachtas inquiry when it is put in place.

Surprise

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams expressed surprise this evening that the Minister for Finance is only writing to the banks tomorrow about the tapes.

He said: “It’s been five years since the banking crisis and several years since the gardaí took possession of the Anglo tapes. The government has known of the existence of the Anglo tapes at least since the first was published, almost two weeks ago.”

But only now is the Minister for Finance taking action. This is evidence of the dismal way in which the government has handled this crisis from the outset.

Speaking after Leader’s Questions, Gerry Adams TD said that much of the focus around the tapes has been on who within the Fianna Fáil government met with the bankers and what can they tell us of the events of September 2008.

He noted that last week he asked Deputy Micheál Martin to make a statement to the Dáil setting out which Fianna Fáil government ministers met the bankers. “There has still been no response to that from the Fianna Fáil leadership,” said Adams.

He also noted that last week the Taoiseach also said that there were no files of any value in the Department of the Taoiseach. “Today I asked him about the files in the Department of Finance and the Central Bank and can these files shed more light on what happened? He declined to answer,” said Adams.

Additional reporting Hugh O’Connell

Read: Patrick Honohan gives unexpectedly frank answers about bank crisis…>

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