Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide building society
Dublin - AFP
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Thursday outlined plans for an investigation into the dealings of the nationalised former Anglo Irish Bank after accusations of dodgy deals at taxpayers' expense.
A judge-led commission will investigate debt write-offs of more than 10 million euros ($11.28 million) during the sale of assets and loans by the state-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
IBRC was established in 2011 to wind-down failed lenders, Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide building society -- costing taxpayers 35 billion euros in emergency funding when the banking sector collapsed during the financial crisis.
Suspicions about the IBRC's operations and of tycoons benefiting amid the social hardship from years of austerity in Ireland have sparked a furore, increasing pressure on the government to take action.
Kenny said the investigation was "the right thing to do" after finance minister Michael Noonan abandoned a previous review of IBRC transactions.
Noonan said that the allegations were "now a cause of concern."
The probe will investigate up to 40 transactions involving write-offs of over 10 million euros during the period between January 2009 and February 2013, and will also determine whether interest rates "were unduly favourable to any borrower."
Last week, independent lawmaker Catherine Murphy used parliamentary privilege to claim that some IBRC loans were awarded interest rates below market value.
She named media tycoon Denis O'Brien as a possible beneficiary -- an accusation that he has denied and sought to prevent from being repeated through legal warnings to media outlets in recent days, generating further public anger.
Micheal Martin, leader of the opposition Fianna Fail party, reiterated his accusation that Dublin mishandled the original allegations about the dealings at the bank by refusing to announce a full probe sooner.
"I think, there was a deliberate attempt to prevent this from getting out -- a lid was kept on it," he told national broadcaster RTE .
Martin also called on Kenny to address the issue in parliament "because we are talking about a major bank (and) billions and billions of public funds."