herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Lenihan under pressure after 'worse than IRA' attack on bankers

RECKLESS bankers who brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy are worse than terrorists, it was claimed last night.

A constituency colleague of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan launched an astonishing attack on top bankers, saying they did "more damage to the economy than the IRA did and they should be treated like subversives".

The strong statement by Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar prompted Mr Lenihan to offer a reassurance that the results of garda investigations are currently being sent to the Director of Public Prosecution.

Mr Lenihan indicated that dodgy bankers would face the full rigours of the law, but said that it would take time.

"The Garda Siochana and the Office of Corporate Enforcement have a full investigation under way relating to these matters," he said.

"Investigations in this jurisdiction, and indeed in the UK and France, they're not any different, they take a substantial period of time in complex cases involving commercial wrong-doing that has criminal implications."

More than 350 people have been interviewed by gardai as part of their inquiries which began in February 2009.

The minister added: "What I can assure the House is that those investigations are well under way and well advanced."

But Mr Varadkar said that the public would not be able to move on and swallow harsh Budget measures unless they saw those responsible for the economic crisis being held accountable.

"Part of that process involves ensuring that those bank executives and public officials who through criminal acts or negligence caused this crisis are prosecuted.





Arrest

"Their arrest will send shockwaves through public opinion and set the public free from the cynicism and sense of injustice which seems to be all pervasive," he said during a Dail debate.

Elsewhere Ireland could be facing the prospect of a Lisbon III after Germany pushed for changes to the treaty passed in a referendum last year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to tighten rules on spending by EU members states and introduce tough penalties for countries that fail stick within limits.

This could see states that break spending deficit rules have voting rights suspended.

If the key states insist on the changes it could spark the need for a third referendum on Lisbon here.

Meanwhile the chairman of Anglo Irish Bank is suggesting that it could be turned into Ireland's second "bad bank".

Alan Dukes believes that the bank could help to purge AIB and Bank of Ireland of their distressed loans. The former TD said Nama was not the full answer to the country's massive bad debts.

A significant number of underperforming loans do not fall into the remit of NAMA but should be dealt with in one place, Mr Dukes has said.

He said that the Government needed to investigate how the banking structure can "be made stronger".

See Analysis, Page 14

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