In November 2014 the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis (“the Joint Committee”) was mandated by Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann to conduct an Inquiry under section 7 of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act, 2013 (“the 2013 Act”).
Our Orders of Reference were amended to establish us as a Part 2 Committee under section 7 of the 2013 Act by Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann on 25th and 26th November 2014 respectively. The Terms of Reference required us to inquire into the reasons Ireland experienced a systemic banking crisis, including the political, economic, social, cultural, financial and behavioural factors and policies which impacted on or contributed to the Crisis. We were charged with investigating relevant matters relating to three inter-related streams of inquiry:
Our Terms of Reference set out 23 matters which could be covered and 23 categories of persons to whom these matters related. The time period for the Inquiry was 1 January 1992 to 31 December 2013.
We directed the provision of documentation in accordance with the 2013 Act1 and also sought the provision of further documentation on a voluntary basis. We also invited all witnesses to provide relevant documents with their witness statements, which some witnesses did.
Directions for documents were issued to AIB, BOI, EBS, IBRC, PTSB, UB, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC, the Central Bank, the Department of Finance, the Department of the Taoiseach and the NTMA. Documents were also sought from NAMA on a voluntary basis. In total, approximately 500,000 pages of documents were provided (further details are in Volume 2).
We heard oral evidence from 34 witnesses on a voluntary basis as part of the Context Phase. We took oral evidence on oath from 97 witnesses as part of the Nexus Phase. We requested or directed written statements from all public hearing witnesses and also directed written statements from an additional 42 non-appearing witnesses. We then issued requests for clarification from 31 witnesses on a voluntary basis following the conclusion of our public hearings. Some witnesses gave evidence in more than one capacity. Where witness evidence is cited in the body of the Report, the title and tenure cited is that which is relevant to the evidence given.
We have relied in this Report on oral, written and documentary evidence to analyse the banking crisis. We have done this by focusing on the main actors, in our view, who were involved in relevant positions during this period. In certain limited cases, we considered that engaging with certain relevant persons or directing certain documents created too great a risk in terms of prejudice to criminal proceedings, and we worked within these parameters in issuing directions.
However, for various reasons, a number of key actors were not available to provide evidence to us. Any reference to those persons in the course of the Report, are therefore based on the evidence of other parties. We are aware that there is no substitute for direct evidence from a person themselves for what they did or did not do or say, and we have had due regard to the weight to be attached to this evidence where it arises. The reasons for the absence of most of the relevant parties are dealt with in Volume 2 of the Report. However, we would like to note that a significant person in the course of the time period for the Inquiry was the late former Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan. We have had to rely, where possible, on the accounts of those who spoke to Brian Lenihan.
Additionally, Jean-Claude Trichet, former President of the ECB, declined an invitation to appear before us but agreed to respond to our questions during an academic lecture at the Institute of International and European Affairs at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. This was in a personal capacity and was not on behalf of the ECB. The transcript of the event was admitted into evidence and has been relied upon in the Report.
Following due consideration as required by the 2013 Act, the draft Report was sent to certain persons so that they would have an opportunity to make submissions to us. Submissions received were duly considered in our review of the draft Report as a result of which weincorporated a number of changes into the final Report to be sent to both Houses of the Oireachtas.
There are two companion Volumes to this Report. Volume 2 sets out the detailed framework, processes and protocols which governed the structure, management and running of the Banking Inquiry and makes recommendations for future inquiries. Volume 3 sets out the oral evidence, witness statements and documentary evidence considered by us in preparing our Report.
Many complex terms arise in the Report and for ease of reference a list is set out in the Glossary of Technical Terms and Acronyms. For ease of reading, abbreviations have been used in some cases for common institutional names. A list of these abbreviations can be found in the List of Abbreviations.
Appendix 1 Footnotes
1. Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act, 2013 (“the 2013 Act”), Section 67.