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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 19 May 2022

Incoming Central Bank boss tells Donohoe he could have described NZ controversy 'more clearly'

Gabriel Makhlouf told the minister he accepts the findings of the probe into the New Zealand budget controversy.

Gabriel Makhlouf will take the top job at the Central Bank of Ireland in September.
Gabriel Makhlouf will take the top job at the Central Bank of Ireland in September.
Image: NZ Treasury

THE SOON-TO-be governor of the Central Bank of Ireland has written to the Minister for Finance to say he fully agrees with the findings of a probe into how he handled the recent controversy in New Zealand where its national budget was leaked prior to publication. 

Gabriel Makhlouf told Paschal Donohoe that he accepts he “could have described the incident more clearly and with a different emphasis”. 

Makhlouf, who had served as secretary of the treasury in New Zealand, had initially said the leaks happened as a result of deliberate hacking.

However, it later emerged that the department was not the victim of a cyber-attack, but accidentally published budget details on its website, which could be accessed using a search function.

In June, Minister Donohoe expressed confidence in the “integrity” and “political neutrality” of Makhlouf, but said he wished that the “incident” had never happened. 

A probe into the affair found that he had acted in “good faith” when he first described the leaks as a hack and said he showed no political bias against those who released the information.

However, he was also found to have fallen short of expectations by the New Zealand State Services Commission chief. 

Makhlouf, a former top UK civil servant, is set to take the role as governor of the Central Bank in September. 

In the letter published today by the government, he told Donohoe: “I am a dedicated and committed public servant and am looking forward to starting my role as governor and having the honour of serving the Irish people, working with my team at the Central Bank.”

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Sean Murray

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