Wednesday 19 September 2018

Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher admits his letter to DCC in support of Sean Dunne was 'stupid'


Richie Boucher
Richie Boucher

A personal letter of support from Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher for developer Sean Dunne was "one of the many stupid things I have done", the banker has confessed.

Mr Boucher, group chief executive at Bank of Ireland, was describing to the Banking Inquiry how in 2007 he had sent the personally signed letter to Dublin City Council in relation to Mr Dunne's proposals for the Jurys/Berkeley Court site.

He also revealed that a €4bn liquidity problem at Irish Nationwide was known to the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator and both Bank of Ireland and AIB a full three weeks before the night of the Bank Guarantee.

Mr Boucher described the scene at a meeting called by the Central Bank on September 7, 2007 with "pieces of paper being flown, thrown around" and no "coherent" assessment of the problem.

He had even suggested to a colleague that they should leave the meeting at one point

He said he was "extremely surprised and shocked" at the extent of the liquidity problem and they "fed back" to the financial regulator that they did not believe this was an accurate picture of what was needed, but even if it was Bank of Ireland was not in a position to provide it.


The group chief executive, who earns €843,000 a year, told the hearing that his bank board "made strategic mistakes and errors of judgement and I bear collective responsibility for these and my contribution to them".

The 100pc mortgages given by the bank in the run up to the collapse were wrong, he added, and tracker mortgages were also "a very big mistake".

Bank of Ireland, said Mr Boucher, had an over-reliance on wholesale funding in the run up to the banking crisis.

Mr Boucher said to Inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch that Bank of Ireland could never repay in moral terms but had tried to do it in financial terms.

Ulster Bank former group chief executive and director Cormac McCarthy told the meeting that his bank had lent too much to too many people on bases which turned out to be flawed, and he deeply regretted this had happened when he was CEO.

He told Senator Sean Barrett that the Financial Regulator had not objected to his bank providing 100pc mortgages which they had introduced because they were losing market share.

"I do regret that we did it," he said.

Solicitor Brian O'Donnell, who recently handed the keys of his Gorse Hill home in Killiney back to Bank of Ireland, attended yesterday's hearing where he sat in the public gallery along with Gerry Beades of the New Land League.


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