Central Bank bill for INBS probe set to hit €20m


INBS collapsed into State ownership in 2010 and its dissolution left taxpayers with a €5.4bn clean-up bill.
INBS collapsed into State ownership in 2010 and its dissolution left taxpayers with a €5.4bn clean-up bill.

The Central Bank forked out over €3m in legal and administrative costs over a near 18-month period to fund an ongoing inquiry into the now defunct Irish Nationwide Building Society – cementing expectations the final tally will run in to the tens of millions.

Internal invoices seen by the Irish Independent show the regulator handed more than €2.2m to three law firms with Arthur Cox, which is providing document support to the inquiry, taking the lion’s share of more than €1.8m.

The bills span almost 18 months from January 2016 to May 2017 before public hearings were fully under way. They reveal payouts totalling €646,650 to seven individual lawyers, including Niamh Hyland SC, who alongside Brian O’Moore, has led the cross-examination of the society’s former management team.

INBS collapsed into State ownership in 2010 and its dissolution left taxpayers with a €5.4bn clean-up bill.

So far the CBI’s outlay on the inquiry equates to a fraction of that sum. The mounting bills may result in a final outlay of €15-€20m according to sources.

However, the regulator has refused to disclose the full cost of its investigation on the grounds that this “has the potential to prejudice the effectiveness of the inquiry”.

A spokesperson emphasised “comprehensive details of the costs incurred” will be published once the inquiry has concluded.

While Mr O’Moore’s earnings are not included in the leaked invoices, the documents reveal barrister Kelley Smith, a tax specialist who has previously assisted the Revenue Commissioners, received €192,500 over the period. Ms Hyland took home €154,508 and Donogh Hardiman, another member of the inquiry’s legal practitioner team collected €102,742.

Grant Thornton Corporate Finance also claimed fees of €150,000 for services provided to the inquiry, with money also provided to Dublin Dispute Resolution Centre, a joint venture between the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, as well as to a stenography firm, helping to bring the total legal and administrative bill for the period to €3.1m.

Costs for the three-member panel conducting the inquiry were not included in the cache, but the CBI has disclosed previously that each is paid €150 an hour, subject to a maximum of €750 per day.

Solicitor Marian Shanley chairs the inquiry and is flanked on the panel by barrister Ciara McGoldrick and Geoffrey McEnery, a former chief executive of Lloyds TSB Bank in Asia.

The documents also detail the CBI’s concerns about securing a venue to host its inquiries over the next three to five years.

According to these files, the regulator paid listed developer Cairn Homes more than €1.1m to rent the DMG building at Blackhall Place until 2021.

The documents also lay bare the CBI’s concerns about securing a long-term venue for its hearings. According to a source, the fit-out cost for the block soared to €944,000 and came on top of refurbishment costs to its offices in Spencer Dock that were intended to provide a fallback option for the inquiry hearings if the CBI was unable to secure a lease extension on the DMG block.

The inquiry heard last December that it may take two years for all seven “suspected prescribed contraventions” to be covered. The first phase covered alleged governance failings at INBS, with former CEO Michael Fingleton and three other members of the senior management team under scrutiny.

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