IMF and OECD latest to snub banking probe

The banking inquiry has been dealt another blow after another two key international bodies involved in assessing Ireland’s economy refused to turn up for public hearings.

The IMF and the OECD are the latest organisations to shun the inquiry after the European Central Bank recently said it would not be quizzed by TDs in Leinster House.

However banking inquiry chairman Ciarán Lynch yesterday said that he will meet Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan about how the ECB can co-operate with the probe outside hearings.

The latest details emerged as Oireachtas banking inquiry members yesterday examined a draft witness list of banks, auditors and developers among others who will be asked to appear later in the year.

Some TDs expressed disappointment that hearings involving AIB and Anglo Irish Bank have only been pencilled in for a limited number of days.

The bankers will appear in the next phase of the inquiry which will begin in April and run until September.

Auditors KPMG and PWC are among those who will be invited to attend, as well as developers, Nama and the banks.

Up to 49 meetings have been scheduled for this, the Nexus phase, of the inquiry.

However, correspondence examined at yesterday’s meeting shows that the IMF and the OECD will not appear.

A committee source said: “They said, after consideration, they won’ t be in a position to attend the sessions. It is a further blow after the ECB refusal, especially given the role of external groups and their monitoring reports [of Ireland].”

Meanwhile, Mr Lynch said he will meet with Mr Honohan to see how the ECB could help the inquiry.

The former ECB president, Jean-Claude Trichet, has signalled through Taoiseach Enda Kenny that he is willing to contribute to the probe through a third party or institution.

“In particular, the committee is interested in the information that the ECB would make available to the committee to assist us in our work and that may be admissibly used as evidence,” Mr Lynch said.

Questions remain about claims the Frankfurt-based bank bounced Ireland into having to enter a bailout programme.

Committee member and Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath yesterday said it was crucial to get the ECB’s co-operation.

“There is no substitute for the ECB coming before the inquiry in a normal way and taking questions from committee members, We hope they have a change of heart [about attending],” he said.

“If not, the committee must explore every avenue to extract as much information as possible about the reaction to the bank guarantee, the negotiations around the bailout and their insistence that senior bondholders be paid,” Mr McGrath said.

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