The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Jim Mitchell, has asked ACC bank to explain why staff members who held their own bogus non-resident accounts were never disciplined. Earlier today, the committee heard that staff at two branches of the state-owned bank held bogus accounts. This evening, Deputy Mitchell questioned the former CEO of the Bank, John McCloskey, on the matter and said that he planned to deal with the issue again. He said that it was a shocking indictment of the bank and told Mr. McCloskey to investigate the matter overnight.

A former chairperson of the state-owned ACC Bank has told the Public Accounts Committee that its senior management withheld information from the board of directors. Gary Joyce, who was a non-executive chair of the board from 1996 to April of this year, said that senior management at ACC consistently ignored a number of directives issued by the board to tackle bogus non-resident accounts.

Ms. Joyce said that, during her first year as chairperson, she accepted management's assurances that there was no widespread problem with non-resident accounts. However, a number of measures were later taken by the board to deal with the problem, but these were not always implemented by management. In her opening statement, Ms. Joyce said that it was common knowledge that there was an element of non-compliance by ACC with non-resident accounts and that this was endemic throughout the industry. She said that there was a belief that, if one bank did not do it, depositors would move their money to another bank or outside the country.

In its opening statement, the bank said that a review carried out in 1992, which estimated that the bank owed over £17m in DIRT, never reflected the true position. ACC paid over £1.3m in DIRT after a number of non-resident accounts were discovered to be wrongly classified.

The bank also said that it still believes the Revenue Commissioners did not intend to collect arrears of DIRT tax owed before 1992. Senior bank officials have said that ACC never condoned or encouraged non-compliance with tax procedures, but admitted that there were deficiencies in the administration of non-resident accounts. ACC also said that its presence in areas of high rural emigration explained why it held large numbers of non-resident accounts.