FINANCE SNUBS DAIL WATCHDOG ON BANKING INQUIRY DOCUMENTS - The Department of Finance will not hand over papers to the Dail's public spending watchdog that were used in the Nyberg inquiry into the collapse of Ireland's banking industry, writes the Irish Independent. Secretary general John Moran said the department had gathered more than 9,000 documents for use by the Commission of Investigation into the Banking Sector, headed up by Finnish civil servant Peter Nyberg. The inquiry, published in 2011, sparked controversy when Mr Nyberg effectively blamed society and the media, along with bankers and regulators, for the banking crisis. In a letter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Mr Moran said evidence to a commission is given in private. And he said sorting the documents to determine what could be released would entail "significant costs in staff time and resources". "If the Government and Oireachtas decide to commit a further inquiry into banking, the nature of any such investigation, its terms of reference, and what committee or other structure should conduct any such inquiry could include guidelines and instructions for the disclosure of any relevant information and approve the expenditure required in any such exercise," Mr Moran wrote.
EASON ADDS HUGHES & HUGHES OUTLETS TO CHAIN - Irish bookseller Eason & Co has added six franchised outlets to its chain of stores, including three shops belonging to rival Hughes & Hughes, which is run by businessman Derek Hughes. The Irish Times says that Eason has reached agreement with Hughes & Hughes for its stores in St Stephen’s Green, Santry and Ennis to transfer and operate as Eason franchises from May 2013. Franchise stores will also open this year in Mallow, Shannon and Killarney. These are expected to create about 35 new jobs. Mr Hughes said becoming an Eason franchisee “makes sense” for the business “given the decline in the overall book market and the threat from online”. “The Eason multicategory business offers a more robust commercial model in addition to a very strong brand and business organisation,” he added. Hughes & Hughes was founded in 1986. It was placed into receivership in early 2010, owing €9 million to Ulster Bank, but Mr Hughes acquired the rights to the name later that year and, with the backing of Aidan Masterson and Pierce Molony of Bus Stop newsagents, he opened six shops under the Hughes & Hughes name.
''URGENT'' NEED FOR BANK STRESS TESTS - Stress tests of the Irish banking system should happen as soon as possible and if the banks then need capital it has to come from an EU fund, former government adviser Alan Ahearne has said. Politicians could be tempted to delay the stress tests for as long as possible to avoid making a decision on how to recapitalise the banks, but for the credibility of the economy and to ensure there is a full and sustainable return to the market, these tests have to happen quickly, he said. The Irish Examiner says that Mr Ahearne was speaking before the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee on evolving economic and monetary union and the implications for Ireland. He was joined by fellow NUIG economics lecturer, John McHale. The Irish Government tried to introduce burden- sharing measures at the end of 2010 but these were resisted by the EU. Consequently, it is only fair that if the Irish banks need capital after the stress tests, then this should come from Europe, said Mr Ahearne. The timing of the stress tests of the banking system still has to be agreed. Finance Minister Michael Noonan recently said he would like the tests to be carried out at the same time as the EU-wide stress tests scheduled for next March.
KPMG CHIEF DISMISSES ‘ONE DAY WONDER’ SCANDAL - The chairman of KPMG has dismissed as a “one-day wonder” the insider trading scandal involving the former head of the firm’s Los Angeles audit practice. Michael Andrew downplayed the global prominence of the controversy involving Scott London, a senior audit partner who has admitted leaking client secrets to a golfing partner who traded on the information. He told the Financial Times that the story grabbed headlines “because it was a slow news week”. However, he conceded that the scandal “will probably hurt” the firm’s business in China, where Mr Andrew is currently on a visit to Shanghai. KPMG has already lost two clients in California as a result. The accountant was forced to resign as auditor to Herbalife, a nutritional supplement maker, and Skechers , the footwear maker, because of Mr London’s actions. The KPMG chairman commended Mr London for taking public blame for what happened. “To his credit, he did go on TV and take full responsibility for it,” he said. Mr Andrew added: “It is very difficult to deal with one rogue guy”. KPMG itself was not in a position to benefit from Mr London’s actions but its global reputation has been harmed by the fact that such a senior figure breached his duty to clients.