Labour wants accountability in bank Bill

Monday 19 January 2009 23.28
Anglo Irish Bank - Five more directors step down
Anglo Irish Bank - Five more directors step down

The Labour Party is to propose amendments to the legislation nationalising Anglo Irish Bank.

The party wants to ensure there is a full investigation into how the bank was operated, to remove secrecy provisions in the Bill, and to make the appointment of the assessor and board members more open and accountable.

Labour Finance spokesperson Joan Burton said the public had a right to know what was going on in Anglo Irish to ensure that in future the interests of taxpayers are not put at risk.

Deputy Burton said she will propose an amendment to ensure that the Assessor who will determine the level of compensation to be paid to shareholders will be approved by the Oireachtas rather than simply appointed by the Minister.

She said she will also be seeking to remove some of the provisions of the Bill which she claimed provided for 'an unacceptable degree of secrecy'.

The Deputy also criticised the failure to have a final text of the Bill available 24 hours before the Dáil meets to discuss it.

The Bill will come before the Houses of the Oireachtas tomorrow.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach has said that people commenting on the banking situation should take into account the impact of their comments on a vital national interest.

He stressed that the measures taken by the Government are designed solely to address the question of confidence and stability in the Irish Banking system.

He said that suggestions that they could have other objectives could warrant a loss of confidence in banking institutions which could be ‘immensely damaging’.

The spokesman said the Taoiseach believes it is right that there should be a full, proper and open debate on banking policy and banking performance, and that there should be proper scrutiny and robust debate in the Oireachtas on the Anglo-Irish Bank legislation.

Five more bank directors step down

Earlier, five more directors resigned from the bank's board. Noël Harweth, Anne Heraty, Michael Jacob, Gary McGann and Ned Sullivan have all stepped down.

In a statement this morning they said they had written to the bank's new chairman, Donal O'Connor, to advise him of their decision.

They say they believe their resignation will facilitate the appointment of new board members by the Minister for Finance following last week's decision to nationalise the bank.

The outgoing directors expressed their disappointment over the management of loans to the former chairman and reiterated the unreserved apology offered to all stakeholders at last week's extraordinary general meeting.

This morning it emerged that the Government had amended the proposed legislation.

The change relates to the right of large investors to withdraw funds.

It is widely reported that the Government has been forced to change the proposals relating to those individuals who both owe the bank large sums of money and have substantial funds on deposit.

It had been planned to include a restriction that would prevent customers who owe more than €20m reducing their deposits below that amount. It is understood that this clause is to be dropped.