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Senator Bacik speaking on the Recapitalisation of Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland: Statements 2009

12 February 2009


Senator Ivana Bacik: As Senator Quinn said, apparently we are all bankers. I welcome the opportunity to put on record two fundamental concerns about the proposed recapitalisation plan. It is essential we have a cap on remuneration. It is simply not enough to talk about percentage cuts and so on when the base amounts are so enormous. In terms of the public having confidence in what is being done, it is important that a cap is put on the remuneration of the senior executives, as has been done in the US, if nothing more than as a symbolic gesture.

The second, more fundamental concern is that it appears the banks played hardball with the Government. They negotiated with the Government, which is a very disturbing thing to read when we know that €7 billion of our money is going into the banks. Surely they were not in a position to negotiate and the Government should have dictated and imposed terms on them. However, it appears from the language of the Minister's speech that the banks accepted certain things and agreed other things. It seems conditions were not imposed in a way they should have been.

For example, there is no recognition of bankers being at fault, no commitment to a change in behaviour, no substantial commitment to free up credit for small businesses and no substantial commitment to ensure home owners will not be put out of their homes once the 12 month period, which is far too short, has passed. Ordinary people, quite rightly, have many concerns about this proposal and about the €7 billion of our money going into the two banks.

I express my concern about reports of the transaction which occurred between Irish Life & Permanent and Anglo Irish Bank. Again, €7 billion was involved. It was a back to back loan. We should not be afraid to use the “F” word and say this was fraud, this was fraudulent behaviour. It gives a lie to and undermines entirely what the Minister told us at the end of September when we were negotiating the bank guarantee. I am one of the few Senators who voted against that Bill. I voted against it because I did not trust what the Minister said at the time about the banks having a cushion of assets which exceeded liabilities. Many of us had real doubts about what the Minister said. What we know, having heard about the back to back loan and fraudulent presentation of loan money being presented as a customer deposit and therefore part of the assets of the bank is that the cushion is exposed to have been a fiction.

What we do not know is how many other fictions we were legislating on the basis of and how many other fictions and back to back loans exist between individual financial institutions. We will find it very difficult to believe what the banks and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, tell us. I have a lot of respect for him personally but he should have read the report on Anglo Irish Bank. Everyone knew this was the dodgy bank. It was 120 pages; he should have read it and an alarm light should have gone on when he knew his officials had referred a particular matter to the Financial Regulator. That is incompetence.