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Pearse Doherty: Missing bank guarantee letters may be grounds for conspiracy theory

Letters have gone missing from the Department of Finance and – it was revealed this week – Bank of Ireland in a development described as “highly suspicious” by the Sinn Féin deputy Pearse Doherty.

Pearse Doherty
Pearse Doherty
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

SINN FÉIN TD Pearse Doherty has said there may be “valid grounds” for a “conspiracy theory” in the disappearance of two letters, related to a possible recapitalisation of Bank of Ireland, in both the Department of Finance and the bank itself.

He was speaking after it emerged this week that Bank of Ireland has been unable to locate its versions of letters that were copied to the then Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and have also gone missing in the Department of Finance despite an “extensive search” by officials.

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 banking crisis in January 2009, and which were copied to Lenihan, had gone missing from the department.

Boucher said this week that his bank “cannot find copies of our own records” and suggested the originals may have been sent to the Department without the bank retaining its own copies.

But Doherty said this was not be possible as the letters were merely copied to the Department, not sent directly to it.

Source: Hugh O'Connell/YouTube

Doherty described the development this week as “highly suspicious” and told TheJournal.ie that a “conspiracy theory may have valid grounds”

“If I went to Paddy Power and said: ‘What’s the odds of a document of such a sensitive nature going missing in the Department of Finance and the exact same document going missing at the Bank of Ireland?’ I think the odds would be massive.

“But that’s what’s actually materialised, and there needs to be a proper investigation into this,” he said.

The two letters are between the Bank of Ireland governor Richard Burrows and tax consultant Noel M Corcoran, who previously gave evidence to the Mahon Tribunal about advice he gave to Bertie Ahern regarding his tax liability on the infamous loans the former taoiseach received from businessmen in the early 90s.

Corcoran corresponded 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 Bank of Ireland.

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.

Attempts to reach Corcoran for comment have been unsuccessful. Beyond Boucher’s comments this week, BOI has declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the Department of Finance has not responded to queries about whether it is still searching for the missing documents.

Doherty admitted that he is unsure whether the Oireachtas Finance Committee, of which he is a member, can do much more about the matter, and said that it needs to be dealt with at government level.

He suggested that a Commission of Inquiry may be needed to get to the bottom of the matter.

More: Finance Dept: We haven’t found those missing documents. BOI: We can’t find them either

Read all our coverage of about the missing documents here >

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Hugh O'Connell

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