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Noonan may ask Bank of Ireland for missing bank guarantee documents

The Department of Finance is now making efforts to locate two letters related to the bank guarantee which have gone missing, according to Minister Michael Noonan.

The original, unredacted version of this letter has gone missing in the Department of Finance
The original, unredacted version of this letter has gone missing in the Department of Finance

FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL Noonan has confirmed that his officials are now trying to find the original copies of two documents related to the banking crisis that went missing in his Department, and may seek them from Bank of Ireland.

In response to a series of parliamentary questions from Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who discovered the documents had gone missing, Noonan has for the first time confirmed that officials are making efforts to locate the original documents.

It emerged earlier this month that the original versions of two letters, both concerning a possible investment in Bank of Ireland in January 2009 and which were copied to the then-finance minister Brian Lenihan, have gone missing.

Copies of both letters are only available in redacted form although one of them has been partially recovered by officials in the Department through the ministerial representation tracking system.

Noonan has also confirmed that the Department is looking into whether it can obtain copies of the letters between BOI governor Richard Burrows and tax consultant Noel M Cocoran from the bank and the consultant.

Bank of Ireland declined to comment when asked if they would provide  the letters, with a spokesperson saying: “It is Bank policy not to comment publicly on specific interactions with Government or Government officials.”

Corcoran could not be reached for comment.

‘Not directly related to bank guarantee’

Noonan pointed out that the documents “are not directly related to the guarantee” and said his officials are continuing efforts to locate the original documents – something the Department would not confirm when asked last week.

“My Department is continuing its efforts to locate the original documents received in the department, and is also investigating whether copies are available from the original correspondents,” Noonan said in a written answer released today.

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In a statement released at the time the disappearance emerged, the Department said it did not know how or why the documents went missing and Doherty said this evening this remains a key question.

“Could it have been misfiled, shredded or taken by previous office holders? They are questions that need to be answered. This isn’t a trivial matter,” he told TheJournal.ie

Noonan also said in his written response that additional controls apply to sensitive documents and files and said he is “not aware” of any documents in the period relating to the bank guarantee that cannot be located.

He said that as part of the process of record-keeping, the section in the Department to whom the file is registered specifies whether it can only be seen by that section.

“On the file tracking system the file is marked on the comment field as containing private and confidential material or secret material. These procedures are reviewed regularly,” Noonan said.

Doherty said that he would be seeking information on what if any comments were applied to the missing letters, if any additional controls applied to them and how many people would have had access to them.

Read: ‘We need to get to the bottom of this’: More details sought on missing bank guarantee letters

Read: The Department of Finance has lost letters connected to the bank guarantee

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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