Business as usual – redux

At Irish Election, P O’Neill tries to make sense of a “bewildering account” by Irish Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, of what the Irish Government knew about the goings on at Anglo Irish Bank and when. The key point appears to be contained in this Irish Times report

Even though Mr Lenihan’s officials knew about massive ILP deposits in late October, and immediately informed the Financial Regulator, the Minister claimed he was not informed until Anglo was bailed out last month. Auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers spotted the payments on the bank’s loan books and notified government officials in October. The loans totalled €7 billion.

Brian Lenihan might have spotted it if he’d read the PWC report in full himself. Well, it’s not as if the Irish government tax-payer was about to guarantee the bank’s deposits.. Business as usual, then? [Is it Armageddon yet? – Ed] Update From Miriam Lord in today’s Irish Times.

Two things Lenihan most definitely is: an experienced senior counsel and the current Minister for Finance. He tells an astonished Dáil that his officials never alerted him to a dodgy €7 billion transaction on the books of Anglo Irish, even though they were concerned enough to refer the matter to the financial regulator.

Senior counsel Lenihan never thought to ask them why they were calling in the regulator, and the advisers never thought to tell him why they had been “concerned.” Did they think he couldn’t handle the truth? Opposition deputies didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.